From the book: The Insider's Guide to Getting Into the Ivy League and Other Top Colleges, here is a summary of how the college admissions officers view students:
Love of learning and pursuit of intellectual endeavors coupled with academic initiative outside the classroom. Take college courses or do special projects, research and independent study involving extensive reading and writing.
The intensity of their intellectual pursuits suggests they will become leaders.
Less academic intensity but impressive inner drive to succeed – stemming more from competition than love of learning for learning’s sake Take college classes and follow up their interests with research and projects. May underperform from a sense of boredom. Strong intellectual contributors.
Strong test scores, AP classes. Lack “creative spark”. Diligent, dutiful, strong work ethic. Actual motivation is unclear.
Less initiative – particularly in following up independently outside of class on subjects of interest. Can contribute at college.
Solid student. Honors, AP classes, some regular classes. Does not stand out in any way.
True interests remain undefined and/or unexplored. Unclear what they would add to a college.
Below top 40%
Little academic potential; light course loads; little interest in study.
Real talents lie in another area.