The College/Graduate School Admissions Domino Effect, the Five Phases of a Successful College/Grad School Application

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Domino effect means a change to one behavior will activate a chain reaction and will cause a shift in related behaviors as well.

The Five Phases of a Successful College/Grad School Application

  • Grades/G. P. A. /Class Ranking
  • Standardized Test Scores
  • Activities/Experience
  • Application Essay
  • Recommendations

Grades/G. P. A. /Class Ranking

  • Grade point average (weighted or unweighted) plays an important role during admissions.
  • Grades are being looked upon as future indicators of how one is likely to succeed in undergraduate or graduate classes by the admission committees.
  • Colleges and Universities use grades as part of a scoring index.
  • With weak grades can be compensated by performing at a much higher level on one or more standardized admissions tests.
  • One should be able to explain well if the grades or class rankings have been affected due to extenuating circumstances, such as the need to support yourself or your family, a serious illness, or other life-altering event.
  • It is also important to note that grades in traditional “college prep” courses are often weighted more.

Standardized Test Scores

  • One should perform well on whatever standardized test related to admission such as SAT and ACT for undergraduate and GMAT for business, LSAT for law school, and MCAT for medical school.
  • It has been observed that most of the schools list score ranges of recently admitted students.
  • It is quite beneficial to practice for these tests whether that means buying a book, using tutors, or taking a prep course.
  • One should always strive to do his/her best in the first time itself. These tests can also be taken repeatedly.
  • While some schools will use highest scores, others will take the average of scores.


  • Colleges for undergraduates prefer to see applicants who have shown leadership in one or more volunteer or extracurricular activities.
  • Showing a deep and long-term commitment to one or two particular activities is ideal and at the same time taking leadership role in at least one of them.
  • Colleges for graduates prefer both passion and commitment to ones field of study.
  • The best programs require experience in one՚s field.
  • The best MBA programs do not admit applicants without having several years of work experience.
  • Similarly, the best law schools and medical schools prefer exposure to the legal and medical professions, respectively.
  • One should be sure to accurately portray his/her activities and experiences along with providing detailed information about activities/experience.

Application Essay

  • Proper application essay (or personal statement) helps a candidate to stand apart from the other applicants.
  • It is very much possible to control the application essay quality though not possible to change your grades, class rank, or standardized test scores.
  • Key tools of writing, rewriting and editing can be used to produce a proper and attractive document.
  • The application essay should reflect self-awareness, honesty, and depth.
  • One should avoid ego-driven autobiographies, lying or exaggerating about circumstances.
  • Application essay should be completely void of typos, misspellings and writing style errors.


  • Strong recommendations form a vital part of the college application.
  • Persuasive letters of recommendation are most likely to turn the heads of the admissions committee over the average letters.