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Jan 04, 2017 08:18 AM EST

What Colleges Search For In Your Application That Can Guarantee Your Entry

A teacher takes her class to the streets, braving the cold while learning takes place.
College admission officers look for "grit" among many student qualities before accepting their applications.
(Photo : Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

College-bound students hoping to get accepted into the university of their dreams know they are advised to work on their grades while in high school, work on getting high SAT or ACT scores, are encouraged to prepare a professional or clean-looking social media presence, and are also advised to work on the optional essay with their best.

But for all that, students need to know that colleges are looking for one more essential factor before they admit students into their campus corridors. This something is called "grit."

Ronné P. Turner, vice provost for admissions at Washington University in St. Louis, an elite private college that receives about 30,000 applications for admission from the best students in the country every year, told the Kansas City Star that although there's not check box "that says grit," the school always looks for students who show resilience, persistence, and adaptability - qualities that show a firmness of mind and spirit, or unyielding courage in the face of hardship.

And that's just how the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines grit.

Grit, Turner says, is not always easy for admission officers to spot because it shows itself in different ways. Sometimes, it's evident in a student's mastery of high-level coursework, other times it is seen through a recommendation letter that says it wasn't easy for a student.

Angela Duckworth, author of 2016 New York Times bestseller book "Grit," says grit isn't talent, nor isn't an intense desire for something at the moment. It also is not luck. Rather, grit, Duckworth says, is "passion and perseverance" dedicated to pursuing long-term goals.

Duckworth says people with grit approach achievements as something like a marathon, where stamina is an advantage. "Stick-to-itiveness," she says, allows a student to hang on for the long haul to achieve academic greatness.

Kalman Chany, author of the Princeton Review college advice book "Paying for College Without Going Broke," says colleges want to know if, in the midst of this generation of kids who have their parents micro-manage them, students will be able to show the grit they need to survive on their own.

Turner, from the Washington University, adds they aren't looking for students with "manufactured" grit. They are looking for authentically gritty students - those who show grit in life.

Do you have grit?

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