What Does Occidental Look for in Prospective Students?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a male student inside a library smiling to the camera

What Does Occidental Look for in Prospective Students?

When it comes to applying to colleges, it’s important to understand what the institution is looking for in its prospective students. Occidental College is no exception.

As an esteemed liberal arts college, Occidental seeks students who demonstrate academic excellence, a passion for learning, and a dedication to making a positive impact on the world. In this article, we’ll delve into the various factors that Occidental considers when evaluating applications.

The Importance of High School GPA in Occidental’s Admissions Process

One of the key indicators of academic excellence is a student’s high school GPA. Occidental takes this into account when reviewing applications. The admissions team looks for students who have excelled academically and challenged themselves with advanced courses.

This doesn’t mean that students who have gotten a B or two won’t be considered, but it’s important to strive for your best grades and show that you’ve not only met but exceeded the expectations set for you.

Additionally, a high school GPA can also be an important factor in receiving scholarships and financial aid. Many scholarships and grants require a minimum GPA for eligibility, and a higher GPA can increase the likelihood of receiving these awards. It’s important to not only focus on getting good grades for college admissions but also for potential financial benefits.

What Does Occidental Look for? Extracurricular Activities and Community Service

Occidental values students who are not just academic achievers, but who have also demonstrated a commitment to making the world a better place. This means taking part in extracurricular activities, such as student government, sports, or clubs, that show leadership and team-building skills.

Additionally, community service involvement that demonstrates a dedication to social justice and community building is highly valued. Occidental believes that students who have developed a passion for learning, leadership, and service will be able to make a positive impact on the world.

Participating in extracurricular activities and community service not only enhances your chances of getting into Occidental, but it also helps you develop important skills that will benefit you in your future career. Employers often look for candidates who have demonstrated leadership, teamwork, and a commitment to social responsibility.

By engaging in extracurricular activities and community service, you can develop these skills and demonstrate them to potential employers.

Group of students smiling at while talking to each other.

Furthermore, being involved in extracurricular activities and community service can also help you build a strong network of peers and mentors. You will have the opportunity to meet people who share your interests and passions, and who can offer guidance and support as you navigate your academic and professional journey.

This network can be invaluable as you pursue your goals and work to make a positive impact on the world.

What Does Occidental Look for? The Role of Standardized Test Scores in Occidental’s Admissions Criteria

While standardized test scores are not the sole determining factor in the admissions process, they are still an important part of a student’s application. Occidental looks at both the ACT and SAT scores holistically, considering both the composite score and individual subtest scores.

It’s important to note that while a higher score may be helpful, it’s not the be-all and end-all.

Occidental also takes into account a student’s overall academic performance, extracurricular activities, and personal qualities when making admissions decisions. This means that a student with lower test scores may still be admitted if they excel in other areas and demonstrate a strong potential for success at Occidental.

Furthermore, Occidental recognizes that standardized tests can be a source of stress and anxiety for many students. As such, the college offers a test-optional admissions policy, allowing students to choose whether or not to submit their test scores as part of their application.

This policy is designed to create a more equitable admissions process and to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to be considered for admission to Occidental.

Why Demonstrated Interest Matters When Applying to Occidental College

Occidental highly values students who show a genuine interest in the college and its mission. This means taking the time to visit the campus, attending information sessions and open houses, and communicating with members of the admissions team.

Demonstrating your interest shows that you’ve researched the college, and have a strong understanding of the college’s values and mission. It also shows that you’re interested in being an active member of the Occidental community.

Furthermore, demonstrated interest can also increase your chances of being accepted to Occidental College. Admissions officers want to see that you are committed to attending their institution and are more likely to accept students who have shown a strong interest in the college.

Additionally, if you are on the waitlist, demonstrating your interest can help you stand out and potentially increase your chances of being accepted.

Writing a Stellar Personal Essay: Tips From Occidental’s Admissions Team

The personal essay is one of the most important parts of your application to Occidental. This is your opportunity to showcase who you are and what you believe in. The admissions team is looking for essays that are well-written, thoughtful, and demonstrate your intellectual curiosity.

It’s important to be authentic and showcase your unique voice in the essay. Be sure to proofread your essay and get feedback from others to ensure it’s your best work.

A student studying on her desk with all her materials.

When writing your personal essay, it’s important to remember that the admissions team is looking for more than just your academic achievements. They want to get to know you as a person and understand what motivates you. Don’t be afraid to share personal anecdotes or experiences that have shaped your perspective.

This will help the admissions team get a better sense of who you are beyond your grades and test scores.

Another important aspect of writing a stellar personal essay is to make sure it’s well-structured and easy to follow. Start with a clear introduction that sets the tone for the rest of the essay, and make sure each paragraph flows logically into the next. Use transitions to connect your ideas and make sure your conclusion ties everything together.

A well-structured essay will not only be easier for the admissions team to read, but it will also showcase your writing skills and attention to detail.

What Does Occidental Look for? The Significance of Letters of Recommendation When Applying to Occidental College

Letters of recommendation written by teachers and/or mentors can help show the admissions team a fuller picture of who you are as a student. Occidental looks for letters that speak to a student’s academic excellence, intellectual curiosity, and character. It’s important to choose recommenders who know you well and can speak to your strengths.

Additionally, letters of recommendation can also provide insight into a student’s potential for success in college and beyond. Admissions officers at Occidental College are looking for students who will not only excel academically, but also contribute to the campus community and make a positive impact in the world.

A strong letter of recommendation can highlight a student’s leadership skills, creativity, and passion for their chosen field of study, all of which are qualities that Occidental values in its students.

Overcoming Adversity: How to Address Challenges in Your Occidental Application

Occidental understands that students may face challenges in their personal or academic lives, and that’s why the college values resilience and perseverance in its applicants. If you’ve faced adversity, take the time in your application to showcase how you’ve overcome it and what you’ve learned from the experience.

Whether it’s overcoming a personal challenge or academic obstacle, Occidental values students who have shown the courage and determination to overcome difficulties.

It’s important to note that overcoming adversity doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have faced a major life-altering event. It can also mean overcoming smaller challenges, such as learning a new skill or adapting to a new environment.

Don’t be afraid to share these experiences in your application as well. Occidental values students who are willing to take on new challenges and push themselves outside of their comfort zones.

Understanding Occidental’s Holistic Admissions Process

If the question, “What does Occidental look for?”, still lingers on your mind, well, it’s important to understand that this institution adapts the holistic admissions process.

a girl sitting and studying in the library

Occidental doesn’t just look at grades or test scores – the admissions process is truly holistic. Admissions officers review each part of the application, including essays, test scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation, to get a complete sense of the applicant. Occidental is looking for students who are well-rounded, passionate, and dedicated to making a difference in the world.

One important aspect of Occidental’s holistic admissions process is the consideration of extracurricular activities. Admissions officers want to see that applicants have pursued their interests outside of the classroom, whether that be through sports, clubs, volunteering, or other activities.

These experiences can demonstrate leadership skills, teamwork, and a commitment to community service.

Another factor that Occidental takes into account is an applicant’s background and life experiences. Admissions officers recognize that not all students have had the same opportunities or resources, and they strive to understand each applicant’s unique circumstances.

This can include factors such as socioeconomic status, family responsibilities, and overcoming adversity. Occidental values diversity and seeks to create a community of students with a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives.

What Does Occidental Look for? Navigating the Interviews

If you’re invited for an interview, congratulations! This is a great opportunity for you to showcase your personality and strengths. The interview is typically conducted by an admissions officer, and it’s important to come prepared with questions and examples of what makes you a great candidate.

Remember, this is your opportunity to show the admissions team who you are beyond your application.

During the interview, the admissions officer may ask you about your academic and extracurricular interests, as well as your future goals. They may also ask you about your experiences and how they have shaped you as a person.

It’s important to be honest and authentic in your responses, and to highlight your unique qualities and accomplishments. Additionally, don’t forget to ask questions about the school and its programs to show your interest and enthusiasm for attending Occidental College.

Comparing Your Application to Past Accepted Students at Occidental College

Finally, it’s important to note that every year, the pool of applicants to Occidental changes and the admissions process shifts with it. While it may be tempting to compare yourself to past admitted students, focus on presenting the best version of yourself in your application.

Occidental is looking for students who are unique and who bring something special to the college, so put your best foot forward and focus on showcasing what makes you stand out.

Intelligent international students preparing for final exams at public park, using laptop and notebooks

One way to showcase your uniqueness is by highlighting your extracurricular activities and community involvement. Occidental values students who are not only academically strong but also actively engaged in their communities.

Whether it’s volunteering at a local non-profit organization or participating in a school club, make sure to include these experiences in your application.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that the admissions committee at Occidental takes a holistic approach to reviewing applications. This means that they consider not only your academic achievements and extracurricular activities but also your personal qualities and character.

Be sure to highlight your strengths and values in your application essays and demonstrate how you will contribute to the Occidental community.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Applying to Occidental College

Since we’ve already answered the question, “What does Occidental look for?”, it’s time to explore the common mistakes that hinder your successful application to this prestigious institution. As you’re preparing your application, it is important to avoid these common pitfalls that could prevent you from representing yourself in the best possible light.

Some things to consider include avoiding trying to be something you’re not, focusing too much on quantity instead of quality when discussing extracurricular activities, and not taking the time to ensure proper grammar and spelling on your application.

Be sure to take your time and do your research to avoid making mistakes that could impact your application.

When it comes to getting into Occidental, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, focus on presenting the best possible version of yourself and showcase your passion for learning, leadership, and community service. Be authentic, put forth your best effort, and stay true to who you are.

With these tips in mind, you’ll increase your chances of becoming part of the Occidental College community.

Navigating the college application process can be overwhelming, and that’s where AdmissionSight can assist you. Booking an initial consultation with us provides you with expert guidance tailored to your unique strengths and aspirations.

We have extensive experience and knowledge of the college admissions landscape, helping countless students achieve their dreams.

During the consultation, we will help you craft a compelling application that showcases your accomplishments and aligns with Occidental’s values.

We will guide you in presenting your story effectively, ensuring that your application stands out from the rest.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to receive personalized advice from our college admissions experts. Book your initial consultation with us today and take a significant step toward a successful college application journey.

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