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What are some methods to make you stand out from other students when applying to colleges?

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I have good grades and do extra curriculars but many other students do as well. #college-admissions

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John’s Answer

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6 Things Vuong that can make your college application stand out from other students

ACADEMIC STRENGTHS
Colleges are looking for students who have not only done well with their grades, but who have also challenged themselves, as they are more likely to succeed in college-level courses. The key is to plan ahead and start freshman year to build a foundation that will open doors to advanced coursework later on. For instance, being ready to get advanced algebra out of the way sophomore year puts you on track to take calculus before earning that high school diploma, which might set you up better should you apply to a program that requires it, such as engineering. Tackling honors, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes, if they're available, shows that you're up for the rigors of college, even if you don't ace them.

DOUBLE DOWN ON TESTS
Of course, colleges have long relied on standardized tests to help them differentiate between students in a way that grades alone cannot. Increasingly, applicants are choosing to take both the SAT and the ACT. Many college admissions officers consider scores of individual sections from both tests, but they’ll use the highest composite score in their admissions rubric. While many places don't require it, some do, and that may change year to year. Again, it's best to consult individual colleges policies.

PAY ATTEN TO DETAILS
Optional essays? Write them. A chance to elaborate on extracurricular activities? Take it. Colleges look at more than test scores and GPA. For students on the bubble, extra effort can be the difference for their odds of admission. And when it comes to extracurricular activities, Vuong you should pick ones that align with your passions over just to pad your resume. Colleges ask about extracurriculars because they want to understand more about you, and what matters to you. This is a chance for you to stand out from the crowd, so be a strong individual.

GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT
Nothing irritates application readers more than an applicant who uses the wrong college name or incorrect college facts in his application. Or who writes essays and short answers so general they have no idea why he wants to attend. So mention the specific features of the college that appeal to you in your essays and short answers. For example, you could mention the college's program in your major or a certain professor you want to work with. Get your facts straight and don't leave the impression that you wrote a cookie-cutter application that could apply to any college.

APPLY EARLY
If you are seriously excited about a college, applying in the fall for an early action decision will put your application at the front of the line. If the college is your solid top choice, nothing makes you stand out more than applying for an early decision. Include a resume of your accomplishments. You might be outstanding in ways not asked about in the application. (Just be sure the college accepts resumes with applications.)

CLEAN UP YOUR ACT
Manage your online self. Make sure your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts show the person you want the college to see. I think it's important for you to understand that colleges, even the really large colleges, are doing much more holistic admissions, that admissions goes way beyond the data. "College admissions officers review applicants' social media profiles."

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Thanks John, truly appreciate it! Vuong B. Translate
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Veronica’s Answer

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Hello Vuong,

Having good grades and extracurriculars on your plate, already make you a great candidate.! Something else that could potentially make you stand out is:
1. taking rigorous courses (AP's, Community College Courses; if offered)
2. High SAT/ACT scores ( However, most schools will be test-optional)
3. Strong Personal Insight Questions (UC) or Personal Statement (Privates)
( During the (UC) application process, there is a section where you have to write short essays, make sure you get these essays revised at least 3 times. We want these short essays to be well-written and include in-depth responses. Try to go deep.
4. Summer Programs/ Internships

Hope this helps :)
Appreciate it, Veronica! Vuong B. Translate
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Jeff’s Answer

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Make sure to have your true personality and passions shine through in your personal statement. Colleges want to know who you are and why they should choose you over someone with similar qualifications. Others have mentioned it as well but anything you can do outside of school that show you have interests and contribute to the larger community. You've got this!
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David’s Answer

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What help you stand out from other student(s) and for college admission to recognized you beside the fact of you have good grades and do extracurricular activities but many other students do as well. For extracurricular activities, you are holding any position or leadership officer position such as President, Vice-President, Captain, Co-Captain, and etc. as well how long you been doing this extracurricular activities. Did you just join recently, since freshmen year of high school and etc. Also any volunteering outside of school, summer programs, and etc. Each things outside of school as well as holding leadership position will add more points to your college admission and stand out to the people who will be looking at your college admission application.
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Virginia’s Answer

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One of the most important things that I've experienced during pre-college prep was that individuality really mattered - both intelligence and characteristics. In my opinion, grades and extra-curricular doesn't define a person's character or motivation to why they want to further their education. What also matters is your actions leading up to application process, etc. Even prior to submitting your interest to the colleges of your choice, I'd suggest getting to really know your college and the faculty. Maybe interview some professors or counselors in the school you are interested in applying for. You have to remember that the people who are reviewing your application are still human, and they'll feel much more emotional connection to you, knowing that you've gone the extra step to really think about why you chose that particular college.
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Muneer’s Answer

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Vuong,
I'll list the items that I think make a strong candidate (and because everyone loves lists). Universities want well rounded students that have different points of view. I'll reply to each one out of order.

1. Coursework
2. Standardized tests (SAT1/2, ACT)
3. Extracurricular Activities at School (Clubs, Sports, Student council, etc)
4. Activities outside of School (Volunteer work, Church groups, political campaigns, etc)
5. Admissions Applications
6. Internships / Work (especially related to your chosen major)

It seems like you're doing the right thing with regards to coursework (1) and extracurricular activities at school (3). I'm not sure if you've taken the SAT/ACT yet, but make sure to find out if any of the colleges you're applying to require the SAT II (2). (6) It goes without saying that an internship or work experience is a huge plus for admissions.

Non School related activities (4) are also pretty useful to showing that you're a 'well rounded' applicant. Volunteering is a great way to accomplish this and there's many resources out there to join, especially during this time. Political campaigns are a good way to volunteer this year (even handing out papers is being part of the campaign). Another way you can volunteer is joining a group that's helping during Covid-19. There's groups that are taking volunteers for almost everything. Something like writing letters to elderly people who are isolated doesn't take a lot of time but has impact. That way you are doing good at a time when we need people to do good. You can talk about it in your admissions applications (the elusive win-win). If I had to choose between an applicant who delivered food to the needy during covid-19 and someone who didn't, you wouldn't need to guess who I'd choose.

(5) The best for last. Your application can make or break you. Here's my advice. It's a human being who will be reading it. Admissions reads hundreds of these and can usually smell BS after 2 sentences, so be honest and real. The majority of candidates write wonderful answers describing how they're passionate about this and passionate about that. They have nicely crafted answers about accomplishments, that clearly show that they're the perfect candidate and how going to X university is their dream. That's ok, but its not ideal. Telling people that you are passionate isn't the same as demonstrating passion in a story. People forget lists of accomplishments and declarations of passion. They don't forget stories.

I hope that helps.

Muneer recommends the following next steps:

  • I'd recommend you look online about the application requirements and info for each university you plan to apply to.
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Rita’s Answer

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Colleges and Universities are also looking for the perfect fit in their students too. Since we are in quarantine right now you can't visit campuses but you can research on-line so you know what's important to the college or university you are applying. Below are some things you can do now to put your best foot forward on your college application:

Rita recommends the following next steps:

  • Don't apply to any colleges you really do not want to attend (just to see if you can get in). This will help with application burnout on your side.
  • Make sure you are well-rounded (i.e. community service activities, extracurriculars, musical instrument (if you have this gift) along with good grades
  • Don't sell yourself short on your accomplishments on your application. Tell the story of you.
  • Volunteer for things like tutoring other students (shows good character). Attend pre-college summer courses at Ivy league schools.
  • Run for elected offices (student council) to clubs you belong to are all good things to list on your application. Join clubs (school & neighborhood).
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David’s Answer

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What makes Vuong stand out as a person? Why should this school accept you? Most people will have good grades and test scores. So what makes you stand out? What are you passionate about? Highlight these things in a straight forward professional manner.
As others have said, outside of classwork, highlight the extracurriculars that tell more about you: sports, clubs, internship, volunteer, church, social, hobbies etc. This is all about marketing yourself in the most positive light: For example, If you have multiple or lots of outside things you are good at or do - then sell yourself as Voung the Swiss Army knife of people - i can do anything!
Thank you David! Vuong B. Translate
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Blake’s Answer

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Hey Vuong,

I would highly recommend volunteering in your community!

Thanks,
Blake
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Riley’s Answer

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Of course having good grades and being involved in extracurricular activities are some of the basic things that you should be doing in order to be considered by colleges. However, one thing that I would suggest in the academic field is taking AP courses or dual enrolling, because taking these high stakes courses will show that you are serious about your future and trying to get a head start. As for the extracurricular route, one of the best things that you could do is take on a position of leadership. Being in a club looks good, but it really stands out to colleges when you hold a position (like treasurer or president) because this shows that you deeply care about the organization and are competent in a leadership role.
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