Colleges focus on grades and test scores, of course, but you are more than just a number -- your essays, recommendations, and extracurricular activities give them a glimpse of who you are. And then there's the interview.
I've been conducting Harvard interviews for many years. What do I look for? Qualities that are hard to spot on admissions applications, but ones that scream out during probing conversation: passion, intellect, curiosity and mettle.