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By Turner Cowles
July 22, 2015

Elite colleges like Pomona College and the Ivies look for several things in incoming students, grades and test scores among them. But it’ll take more than just straight As to get into an elite school.

Passion. Students should have a passion for something. Colleges want people who are unique in some way and can contribute to on-campus community.

Academic qualifications. Have you taken the most challenging courses and pushed yourself?

Grittiness. Have you overcome obstacles? Admissions officers love an underdog story.

Communication. How well do you write; how well do you speak? Play to your strengths.

Check out Money’s 2015-16 Best Colleges rankings

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Advertiser Disclosure

The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.

Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.

Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.

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