56 Examples of Academic Strengths for a School Application

Updated March 10, 2023

Many students rely on a strong application to get accepted into their ideal school. In addition to your grades and extracurricular activities, certain attributes or abilities may help you make an impression on a college's admissions officers. Understanding which academic strengths to feature on your application can help you prepare a strong application.

In this article, we review what an academic strength for a school application is and provide a list of academic strengths to include.

Related: How To Write a College Application Cover Letter

What is an academic strength for a school application?

An academic strength for a school application is a skill, ability or talent that you can highlight when you apply for admission to a college or university. These strengths help introduce you and your academic competencies to the admissions office while also highlighting what may help you be a successful student and learner. Featuring the right skills can help you capture the attention of the administrators that review your submission. Alongside your GPA and high school or extracurricular accomplishments, your academic strengths may help you get accepted to the college of your choice.

Related: College Applications: Early Action vs. Early Decision

Examples of academic strengths for school applications

Adding academic strengths to your college application can help you highlight your unique skills and abilities. Review this list of strengths to help you decide what feature on your application:


Consider highlighting collaboration on your application to display your ability to work well with others. Many projects and programs may require students to work in teams. This means it may benefit you to show how you're skilled in this area and can contribute to executing a plan with your peers.


The ability to examine and assess something with great detail is a valuable skill. College admissions offices may look for students with this ability because many majors and areas of study integrate analysis into the coursework. For example, many subjects related to research may use data analysis as a method or strategy.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is a valuable skill because it allows you to conduct systematic analysis of a variety of evidence. Professors may ask students to use their critical thinking abilities when approaching an academic question or creating innovative solutions to a challenge. This skill can also demonstrate your ability to consider a variety of outcomes and use data or information to make a decision.

Active listening

If you add active listening as one of your strengths on a college application, you can show the admissions office that you're able to pay attention to verbal and non-verbal communication and intake the information. Active listening involves acknowledging what the speaker says and sometimes also noticing their body language to gather a full understanding of the information they're sharing. This can be a useful tool as you attend classes or seminars.

Information Technology (IT) skills

You can also consider adding any skills related to your IT knowledge and abilities. They may be particularly useful to include if you're interested in majoring in a subject related to the development, design and management of technology. IT skills can include understanding algorithms, applications and data processing.


Some colleges may look for students that are able to inspire and motivate their peers, so adding leadership to your application can benefit you. The ability to lead others and influence them to work on a group project or contribute to class discussion can be a valuable skill while attending school. This strength may show admissions offices that you're willing to help your classmates work together and commit to learning.


Research helps students and professors gather new information to test theories and hypotheses. This means that it can be a useful strength for individuals in a variety of majors. Highlighting your research skills can demonstrate that you're curious, inquisitive and interesting in developing or discovering new knowledge.


Problem-solving is a fundamental skill in business, technology, science and overall learning. Adding this strength to your college application can show that you're qualified for majors in a variety of fields and that you're interested in creating new and innovative solutions. It may be particularly beneficial if you're interested in the sciences, design thinking or philosophy.


You may face a variety of challenges or new circumstances while in college, so consider adding resilience to your unique list of strengths. Being resilient when handling adversity can help you adapt to change and remain committed to your goals. College admissions representatives may look for students who possess this ability as they understand the situations that can arise while students transition to college life.

Written communication

Regardless of your major, many colleges require students to enroll in prerequisite classes, which can involve writing. Mentioning your written communication skills on your application can show that you're ready for the college's coursework. It may be particularly beneficial to highlight these skills when you're pursing a degree in poetry, creative writing or any of the social sciences.


Highlighting your self-discipline can show admissions officers you can stay committed to your goals, even as you encounter challenges or unpredictable circumstances. Self-discipline is the ability to remain focused and motivated when you confront challenging situations without needing incentives, praise or special acknowledgment. If you're applying for a larger university, self-discipline can help illustrate your ability to hold yourself accountable even when class sizes may be large.

Study habits

Universities may look for students who already have established and useful study habits to ensure that they're ready for the course loads of their college classes. These activities help you acquire new knowledge and remember what you learn in your courses, which can help you perform well on quizzes, tests and exams. You can add this strength to your college application to highlight your learning capabilities and skills.


Some universities may look for students who are open to new ideas and developing alternative systems or strategies for success. This means that it may benefit you to discuss your creativity and how this strength can contribute to your academic success. If you're interested in majoring in a field in the arts, creativity may be particularly important.

Language proficiencies

Being able to speak different languages conveys your ability to communicate with a wide variety of people. While you may enroll in language classes while attending college, consider listing any languages you speak on your application as well. Learning new languages can transform your perspective and outlook on the world, which may help you capture the attention of admissions professionals.


Coding is a unique ability that can be particularly beneficial if you're interested in obtaining a degree related to technology and software design. There are a variety of coding techniques or skills that you can list, including abstraction, end-user computing and sensors. Featuring these skills on your application can help set you apart from other applicants.


Composition is your ability to cohesively arrange various elements of a design. If you're interested in pursuing a creative major or earning a degree in the arts, composition can be a valuable skill. This highlights your creative insight and distinctive perspective when it comes to the layout of an artistic piece.

Growth mindset

A growth mindset can allow you to develop your talents and abilities through hard work and determination. This can show admissions officers that you're willing to improve your skills and learn new capabilities, which can all contribute to your academic success. Growth mindsets may be able to produce better learning outcomes and can signify that you're a student interested in continuing to advance their personal and educational development.

Digital media

Digital media proficiency can be particularly beneficial if you're interested in majoring in marketing, advertising or journalism. If you're already skilled in this area, consider highlighting it on your application. This strength can help you complete coursework related to journalistic publication, videography and research.

Organization and prioritization

Being organized and capable of prioritizing tasks and events can help you succeed in college. Listing these skills can show admissions officers that you're equipped with the necessary skills to be successful in college. Enrolling in school may require you to manage several classes and assignments, so these are helpful abilities regardless of your major.


Storytelling is a valuable communication skill that can help you in any career path you choose. This skill is an advantage when delivering any type of presentation, meeting with prospective clients or in any situation where you'll want to hold your audience's attention. Being able to tell a compelling story is integral to the success of a salesperson or marketing professional, for instance, and may be useful for college classes that focus on these roles.

Public speaking

Many college courses may require students to present in a group or individually about their research or report. Public speaking skills can help students convey their ideas effectively and confidently to their classmates. While this ability may come naturally to some people, others can work to develop this skill to ensure that they feel comfortable speaking to larger groups of their peers.

Time management

Regardless of what subject you study, time management can help you balance and manage all the classes, events and activities in your schedule. It may also help you complete and submit assignments by their deadlines. Adding this strength to your application can show that you possess skills that may help you be successful throughout your academic career.

Empathy and kindness

In addition to academic abilities, admissions offices may care about your personality and how you may behave around peers. Highlighting your ability to be kind and empathize with others can show the application reviewer that you take pride in your ability to connect with people around you. It can also demonstrate your desire to make a positive impact on other people's lives.


Some students may find the transition to college challenging. Admissions officers may look for students who have perseverance and the desire to handle a variety of new circumstances, even if they seem difficult. Adding this to your application can feature your determination and willingness to pursue your goals.


Even if you're interested in pursuing a degree in the arts or social sciences, your prerequisite courses could include classes in mathematics. Alternatively, majors like architecture, physics and software design may all use advanced fields of mathematics as a primary topic of study.

Independent learning

Independent learners can typically motivate themselves to study and take necessary actions to help support their academic development. Admissions officers may look for students who are independent learners because it can help ensure their commitment and dedication to their coursework. These individuals may also encourage positive study practices amongst their peers.


Adaptability can help students succeed in their courses by allowing them to learn and study in a variety of settings and classroom dynamics. Feature this strength to feature your versatility and open-minded approach to learning. College classes can differ depending on the subject, instructor and class size, so remaining adaptable can be a useful skill.

Related: 39 Strengths and Weaknesses To Discuss in a Job Interview

More academic strength examples

Here's a list of additional academic strengths to consider adding to your college application:

  • Non-verbal communication

  • Civility

  • Emotional intelligence

  • Debate

  • Candor

  • Honesty and integrity

  • Self-assurance

  • Independent learning

  • Consensus building within a group

  • Handling constructive criticism

  • Reading comprehension

  • Artistic abilities

  • Athletic strengths

  • Test-taking

  • STEM skills

  • Numeracy

  • Cross-cultural communication

  • Challenging assumptions

  • Essay writing

  • Positivity

  • High achieving

  • Acting and improvisation

  • Systems thinking

  • Tolerance

  • Open-mindedness

  • Planning skills

  • Socialization

  • Enthusiasm

  • Strong work ethic

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