A Strong Foundation Building For Your Child Is A Must: Start Before It’s Too Late

College admission processes were stagnant for a very long time. If you aspired to take the science route, the National Entrance cum Eligibility Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) were the only way to make it to college. If you are a liberal arts, design or humanities enthusiast, your college admission depends on Grade 12 marks and a few entrance exams for Central & State Universities.

Marks in Grade 12 board exams and entrance exam scores were the only deciding factors in your college admission success. The process was so rigid that if you didn’t make the cutoff, then your doors were closed. 

This approach worked until half a decade ago. However, over the past few years, there has been an unprecedented increase in the number of students appearing for Grade 12 board exams.Huge Growth In Grade 12 Marks The inflation in marks is almost unreal. 
Inflation in Marks is Unreal

College admission processes are not the same anymore and we will take you through various aspects related to admissions:

1. How Do Universities Differentiate Between Students NOW?

Even today the approach remains very close to what it was a decade ago for science aspirants, but with top colleges like IITs talking about assessing student personality, etc., the needle is moving. 

According to the University Grants Commission’s website, the total number of universities in India was 874 as of 25 September 2018. That figure includes 47 central universities, 391 state universities, 125 deemed universities, and 311 private universities.

The saturation in Grade 12 marks and limitations in college seats available is forcing all these universities to rethink their admission processes.

Here is an example of a disproportion in applicants vs seats in 2019. Remember that all these applicants have already crossed the initial barrier of cutoffs done using Grade 12 marks. 

Competition Is Increasing

Now with thousands of students scoring above 90%, marks can no longer be a distinguisher, but can only be an eliminator in college admissions. 

What does this mean? 

It means that colleges will continue to have cut-offs to eliminate students, but you will not be able to get into a college, JUST based on your scores.

How does a country like the United States, a country with the biggest higher education system in the world, conduct admissions?

2. The United States Admissions Model

The United States has been ahead of its time in college admission processes. From application forms that are extremely elaborate and capture all facets of a student to lengthy group discussions, personal interviews, and profile assessments, their admission process is created to judge the student as a whole. They always use marks as the initial filter and not the final one.

Colleges in the USA choose candidates by maintaining a balance between SATs, grades and personal achievements. Here’s a video that explains this balance in a nutshell.

3. What Matters Beyond Grades In The US?

Above and beyond your grades and entrance test stores, colleges in the US look for the following qualities in an applicant:

  • A Passion For The Chosen Course Subject

This is an aspect that every college looks for in you. Are you passionate about the course you applied for? How much does it matter to you? 

But, how do you prove that you are passionate about the course you applied for? The internships you have done, the summer programs you went to, and the online courses you did, all will come to your rescue to demonstrate an interest in your chosen course.

  • Leadership Skills

Students should be admitted to college on the basis of their potential for future leadership and active citizenship. – Robert Sternberg, author of College Admissions for the 21st Century.

Ivy League colleges in the US & other top colleges pay special attention to the leadership skills that a candidate possesses. How do you showcase leadership skills? Have you headed a project in school, led a community project or started a music band on your own? The field could be anything of interest, but you must showcase leadership skills. 

  • Commitment

Commitment is a hard virtue to find. Colleges understand the importance of commitment, which is why they are always on the lookout for students who are committed to their choices and decisions. You can demonstrate commitment by working on a skill of your choice for a long period. Commitment is also demonstrated by learning from both successes and failures & not giving up on the skill you are determined to learn. 

  • Communication Skills

Good communication skills are a foundation for everything. To be employable after college, communication skills are extremely important. 

Colleges understand that & do a deep evaluation of a student’s communication skills. From their eye contact to the confidence with which they speak during the personal interview, everything is analysed. You can showcase your communication skills in your statement of purpose, and the finesse and confidence with which you give your interview. 

  • Intellectual Curiosity

According to the IECA’s (Independent Educational Consultants Association) Top 10 Strengths and Experiences Colleges look for in High School Students, number nine is “Demonstrated intellectual curiosity through reading, school, leisure pursuits, and more.

In a fast-moving world, colleges are looking for students who are curious and are always pushing to learn something new every day. This quality can be showcased through research papers, interesting hobbies, etc.

Quick Fact:

Every year 2,98,462 students apply to Ivy League Colleges and 22,720 of them get admitted. This means the admit rate is: 7.6%

Watch a video where experts decode the new way college admissions are going to be done around the world.

4. The Big Shift In Admission Processes In India

Imagine a highly possible scenario:

You scored 95% in your Grade 12 exams & you are applying to a TOP college in India. 500 other students who are applying to the same college scored the same marks as you did. But, the college has only 50 seats to fill. How will the college choose now?

With only so many seats available and with Grade 12 marks shooting through the roof, a lot of colleges in India are moving away from the conventional academic evaluation admission process. Colleges are being forced to incorporate new and innovative methods to choose the cream of the crop.
A Glimpse Of Old vs New Way Of Admissions In India

5. Dive Deep Into India’s New Way Of College Admissions

Personal Interviews: Personal Interviews are a crucial tool to demonstrate your interest in a college and boost your acceptance odds. In these interviews, the college you are applying to evaluates your personality, passion, communication skills, confidence etc. 

Ashoka University’s admission process makes personal interviews mandatory in their admissions process for their undergraduate courses. The interview is the second round in the admissions process, where a student will have to face a panel. The panel evaluates a student based on their personality, passion, commitment & communication skills.

Co-curricular Assessments: These assessments evaluate the student’s personality & interests beyond the classroom and establish how they are different from the rest. 

FLAME University pays very close attention to a student’s co-curricular activities. They follow a sliding principle in their admissions process. So, as an applicant, if you score below average on your entrance test, but your application is strong in other aspects like co-curricular activities, chances are you might still get an offer from FLAME University. 

This applies to all their undergraduate offerings like B.A., B.A. (Hons)*, B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons)**, B.B.A., and B.B.A. (Communications Management).

Group Discussions: The easiest way for colleges to evaluate if a candidate is a team player or not is through a Group Discussion. How you present yourself in the discussion and how you allow candidates in your team to put their points forward is analysed. The clarity with which you speak will make the admissions committee notice YOU. 

Vellore Institute of Technology (Chennai Campus) evaluates the shortlisted merit candidates through a group discussion for their 5-year integrated BA. LL.B & BBA LL.B program. This group discussion is the key decider in the admissions process.

Recommendation Letters: Understanding the background of a student has become increasingly important for colleges and universities. After all, the student is going to represent their brand name. Colleges evaluate recommendation letters to understand the student’s personality, credibility, and whether they are fit for their institution.

Statement Of Purpose: A Statement of Purpose is the essay that will bring out every aspect of a student beyond his/her marks & academic achievements. What is your story? Where are you from? Why do you want to join a certain college? What makes you different from other students? To be able to write a Statement of Purpose with ease, you should have a clear goal & intention in mind.

Indian Institute of Management, Indore, offers a 5-year Integrated Program in Management and gives 15% perfect weightage to the written ability test, which is nothing but a Statement Of Purpose. Only shortlisted candidates are asked to write the Statement of Purpose, hence it plays a very important role in the decision the admission committee makes.

Portfolio: A portfolio is nothing but a collection of all your work. This substantiates your DEEP INTEREST in the subject you are applying for and gives the admissions committee a clearer insight into who you are. 

If you are applying for a Bachelor’s in Design or Bachelor’s in Fashion Technology at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, you are competing with 23,000 other students for 3,590 seats. Even though there is no specific round to judge your portfolio, having a portfolio to showcase your eye for design during the personal interview will make your case a lot stronger. 

Leadership Roles In School: Colleges are very well aware that companies are looking for people with employment skills. To make their students employable, they are increasingly looking for leadership qualities in them. If you are someone who led a club at school or started a social awareness organisation, you will have an added advantage.

KREA University tests students for qualities like integrity, ownership, responsibility, etc. to make sure that their students come in with a grain of leadership. Watch Ms. Kanchi Khanna, Director of Outreach of KREA University talk about their search for leadership qualities in an applicant.

6. How Do You Prepare For The New Way Of Admissions?

With the New Way of Admissions moving away from the academic selection process, you need to focus on other aspects of yourself to be able to establish why a college should choose you. 

What makes you DIFFERENT from thousands of other applicants should be extremely clear. You can follow the below steps to ace the new admissions process:

  1. Get Clarity on what your goal is early on and decide which career you want to pursue. 
  2. Understand the requirements of the college you want to apply to and prepare accordingly. Most students ignore this and work on qualities that are not aligned with their dream college. 
  3. Make a plan of action and invest in activities that will take you closer to your dream college. 
  4. The balance between academics and non-academics is key to achieving the best possible result. A roadmap should be made to help you achieve that balance. 

A well-rounded personality is what colleges are looking for in an applying candidate. This is possible with the right guidance, exposure, and roadmap. 

We can help you with this with ProMap – short for Profile Mapping, where we will build a personalised roadmap keeping in mind your end goal and increase your chance of admission success.

Your marks are JUST the elimination filter in the admission processes now. But, by building a strong non-academic profile with ProMap you are strengthening your personality, which is the SELECTION filter for colleges and will give you a disproportionate advantage

Download Our Ebook to learn more about how you can achieve this advantage and how you can be first in line when it comes to scholarships by building a strong profile. 

7. Conclusion – Rethink, Reboot, Succeed

The college admissions preparation that worked a decade ago is NOT GOING to work today. You need to find the perfect balance between academic and non-academic profiles to distinguish yourself from the thousands of others who are scoring the same marks as you. 

So, sit back and think about it. What do you think you are going to do differently now?


Content Manager at Univariety

Sneha Mashetty is a former journalist who covered state politics. With a degree in Journalism & Masters in Electronic Media, she combines her research techniques, versatility in writing for the web, and love for education at Univariety. She has written extensively for International schools, Ed-Tech products, emerging learning technologies for half a decade. An avid reader, a travel lover & a movie buff who loves to have meaningful conversations


  1. HI
    No doubt you have explained everything in a crystal clear way. It helps readers in clearing their doubt related to admissions and they can think in positive direction.
    very Nice

  2. Thank you so much for the valuable information. I really appreciate the way you explain everything with so much clarity and precision. Can I share this with my students parents? I’m sure there are lots of parents who are not aware of this.

    • Hi Ranjana,

      I am glad you liked my blog and found it informative. We strive hard and work extensively to inform educators, parents & students about the changing trends in the education industry. Please feel free to share the blog with your parents & students

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