for Education

The Deciding Factor

Check out Adobe’s latest research findings making the case for a more holistic measure of student success.

Creative skills play a key role in school and career success

  • Creativity
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative problem solving
World Economic Forum

“Complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity are the three most important skills required to thrive in 2020 and beyond.”


“Creative thinking and problem solving will be the #1 most valued skills for future workplaces.”


“Creative problem solving, communication, strategic thinking and leadership are the most desired but hardest-to-find skillsets.”

In June 2020, Adobe surveyed:

Decision Makers

250 U.S. college admissions decision makers.


250 U.S. high school college placement counselors.


1000 U.S. high school students.

to find out how these skills are reflected in the college application process.

The results of our survey?

College admissions decision makers see creative skills as a top three factor when reviewing applications:

  1. GPA
  2. Interviews
  3. Creative Skills
Alison Herget

“That’s a skillset that’s needed to be successful in an increasingly interconnected world.”

- Alison Herget, Admissions at Villanova University

Including these skills in the evaluation process can help make admissions more equitable by encouraging a larger, more diverse applicant pool.

Dejah Greene

“Allowing students to use other ways to showcase and advocate for themselves in college admissions is a great way to make more students apply.”

- Dejah Greene, Admissions at Howard University

However, creative skills do not rank as a top three factor for college placement counselors or high school students, who tend to perceive standardized test scores as more important to the current process.


What counselors see as most important:

  1. SAT or ACT scores (59%)
  2. GPA (56%)
  3. Interview (29%)

What students see as most important:

  1. GPA (63%)
  2. SAT or ACT scores (56%)
  3. Showing personality and authenticity (25%)

As a result, creative skills are not demonstrated well in college applications.

Perceived importance of skills vs. demonstration in applications.

(Shown: ‘Very Important’ and ‘Very well’ among college admissions decision makers)

graph graph_mob

of students don’t know where to showcase creative skills on today’s college applications.

What changes need to be
made to bridge this gap?

First, every effort should be made to foster creativity in the classroom — with focus on creative skills across the K-12 curricula.

Students wholeheartedly agree as seen in these survey results:


Second, the application and admissions process needs to evolve.

  • Better ways to evaluate candidates than just test scores and GPAs.
  • A standardized way to evaluate creative skills — solutions such as AI/text analysis and reviewing students’ portfolios.
  • More time and staff for both admissions decision makers and college placement counselors, who face these challenges:

29 hours
The average amount of time a student spends preparing their applications


11 minutes
The average amount of time a college admissions officer spends evaluating each application

of surveyed admissions
officers review…
student applications
each cycle

of surveyed college
counselors advise…
students each year on
heir college application

Dejah Greene

“A lot of students are being ignored or swept under the rug in terms of evaluation because there’s not enough staff. You can’t say you’re doing a well-rounded evaluation of the student if you only have six people in your office but have thousands of applicants to go through.”

- Dejah Greene, Admissions at Howard University
Julie Kampschroeder

“I have 800 juniors and seniors…If you don’t have a counselor who knows how to help guide you in that process, especially when you’re first-generation, low-income, the odds are vastly against you.”

- Julie Kampschroeder, Counselor at Ritenour High School

Here’s how to stand out.

We want to give an edge to high school students getting ready to apply to their dream schools this fall. We’ve partnered with some of today’s most loved creators to show how to incorporate students’ creative portfolios into their college applications.


Chris Emdin, professor, author, Ph.D and founder of the #HipHopEd movement on finding your unique voice and rhythm to share your story in a way that shows the true and most authentic you.

Get started

Steffi Lynn Tsai, creative designer who combines color, texture and inspirations on creating a gorgeous compilation of your best work, thoughts and moments along with your process — the who, why and how of you.

Get started

Matt Crump, known for his iconic candy-colored photos, shows you how to create your own unique aesthetic to tell your story in a powerful way.

Get started

Matt Shirley, data scientist & humorist, shows you how to use clever charts and graphs to share the factual yet hilarious and simple yet complex data points that makes you stand out. 

Get started
Vector_Smart_Object (2)

Audri Williams and Callie Evans, high school teachers and cheerleading coaches, share their advice on visually telling your story to declare your goals, express your vision, and show your talents and creative greatness.

Get started