What is the most important part of a college application?
Not to sound depressing, but, from my experience, for a majority of schools your grade point average (GPA) and test scores (ACT or SAT) are the most important for getting in and for earning scholarships.
For more prestigious schools, where far more students are applying with very high GPAs and very high test scores, other factors come into much more important consideration: essays, teacher recommendations, activities, community service, honors and awards, etc.
This is not to say that having a low test score and/or GPA can keep you out of a school completely - if you write an amazing essay or focused your time in high school on something other than grades and succeeded greatly at it (i.e. you published a book, completed nationally in a sport, invented something, etc.) you could probably still get into a prestigious institution with not-so perfect numbers.
I think the most important part of your application depends on which school you are applying to. A good GPA or great test scores usually help but ideally you need to be very strong in at least two areas: e.g in aacdemics and community service, or a good essay and great extracurriculars etc.
The most important part of your application does depend on the school you are applying to, but as long as your grades are up to the school's standards I think the most important part is how much you've challenged yourself (number of AP/IB/honors classes you've taken relative to how many your school offers). After that, I think the essay is the next most important. Your essay is how you show that you have something to offer other than academic skill, and for the most selective schools is also a sign that you may or may not be a good "fit" for the atmosphere they are trying to build.
In my opinion, the essays are the most important part of any college application. Theoretically, you should know the average GPA and test scores of any school that you are applying, which will dictate what schools you apply to. But, even if your GPA and test scores aren't as good as the average or other people applying, a good essay and personal statement can show a school how dedicated and involved you are, which can result in a positive outcome for you.
Well, GPA and Test Scores. Some colleges like test scores more than GPA and some the other way around. Reccomendations are also important for religious schools.
Your GPA is probably the single most important factor for college admissions. If you're on the margin or the admissions officers are trying to make a decision between two students, then other factors like extracurriculars and essays will be considered, and obviously if you are seriously deficient in these areas they you are a less competitive applicant. Put simply, however, if your GPA and test scores are not up to par with the rest of the applicant pool, it's nearly impossible to make up that gap with just essays and recommendations. Colleges want to know if you will succeed at their school, and how you performed in high school is the best way for them to tell how strong you are academically.