What are some things that look good in a college application?
besides good grades and test scores?
Good grades and test scores are certainly near the top of any list of characteristics admissions officers look for when deciding whom to offer admission. You’re right to recognize though that there are other things that get considered. Extra-curricular activities in high school can make a big difference. Being on the debate team, school paper, French Club, and of course sports teams, along with decent SAT’s can get you into many colleges. Beyond that some schools require an essay that gives the admissions people a sense of who you are and how you use language. Don’t forget community activities like scouting, 4-H, and jobs you’ve held during the summer or school year. Where you’ve traveled, what you plan to do in the future, a sense of emotional investment in other people… all of that and more can make a difference.
Some schools may also be looking for some diversity of race, ethnicity, region of the country, gender, etc. I recommend that you do some research on the schools to which you plan to apply and you can find out the sorts of freshmen they’re looking for. Don’t misrepresent yourself on the application to get in but emphasize the qualities you actually have that you’ve found the colleges value. BTW, I’m a retired college professor who’s seen this process up close. Best wishes.