Top 5: What I Look For In an Application

As students begin the college search and application process, one of the things they’re often anxious about is how their application will be evaluated by a college. A lot of students stress themselves out trying to craft an application that represents who they think colleges are looking for—rather than an application that best represents their individual achievements and interests.

When I read applications, I’m looking for students who are academically qualified and will enrich our campus’ living and learning community. Read more below for insight into specific pieces of the application process.

Kalamazoo College Admission Counselor Rudi Goddard
Rudi Goddard                         Assistant Director of Admission
  1. Academic Strength

This one is pretty obvious. You are applying to be a college student—you’re going to spend a lot of time taking classes. I review a student’s transcript thoroughly, especially noting their GPA and the rigor of curriculum. I want to see a student has challenged himself or herself by taking the most rigorous courses their school offers—especially in junior and senior years.

  1. Personal Passions and Involvement

Who are you? What do you like to do? What are you most passionate about and how will you be involved on our campus? Students at Kalamazoo College keep themselves very busy—we don’t want to enroll someone who is going to spend all of their time in the library—so I look for students who have invested significant time, energy and/or leadership in a few activities.

Don’t join 10 new clubs senior year just so you can write them on your application.

Don’t list the activity you think “sounds good” at the top of your extracurricular activities if it’s not the one to which you’re most devoted.

And don’t forget to mention participation you might not think of as a traditional school activity; for example, working a part-time job, publishing your creative writing in a local paper or online journal, shouldering significant family responsibilities, etc. Anything you do between sitting in class and sleeping could be an extracurricular activity!

  1. Writing Ability

Kalamazoo College’s curriculum is writing-intensive—no matter your major—so a student’s writing ability (demonstrated in the personal statement essay) is very important. A well-written essay will be error-free, interesting and tell me something about the student I wouldn’t have learned from any other part of their application. The best essays I’ve read are very focused: it’s not possible to distill everything that makes you a unique individual into 650 words or less, so don’t try. Instead, think critically about one idea or experience that is meaningful to you and/or has shaped you in some way.

  1. Fit With K

This one may seem obvious, but it should be apparent from your application you like Kalamazoo College and are interested in spending four years on our campus. If you’ve done your research, you know K is a good fit for you, so don’t be shy to tell us why you think we’re a great match!

  1. But What about Test Scores?

You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned the ACT or SAT. That’s because Kalamazoo College uses a Test Optional application process. You are not required to submit standardized test scores as part of your application materials and your scores will not determine your admission decision, nor will they factor into merit scholarship allocation. If you think your test scores are a strong indicator of your academic potential—or perhaps a stronger indicator than, say, your GPA—you are more than welcome to send them to us.

Read more about our Test Optional admission policy.

Note: International students must demonstrate English language proficiency, and they may choose to use ACT or SAT scores to do so. Read more about English proficiency requirements for international students.

Rudi Goddard, Assistant Director of Admission