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What are the best ways to stand out in the college admissions process?

I have good grades and extracurriculars but is there something else I could do to really boost my application?

#college #collegeadmissions #business #finance #ivyleague #givingiscaring


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John’s Answer

So you're working on your college application Rasya. Congratulations are in order. You're taking a monumental first step toward a new phase in life, one that will change you forever and help you reach your goals in life. Schools are looking for students who have not only done well but who have also challenged themselves, as they are more likely to succeed in college-level courses. Admission officers have an interest in knowing more about you. It may sound like a chore, and it will certainly take a substantial amount of work. But it's also a unique opportunity that can make a difference at decision time. Admissions committees put the most weight on your high school grades and your test scores . However, selective colleges receive applications from many worthy students with similar scores and grades—too many to admit. So they use your essay, along with your letters of recommendation and extracurricular activities , to find out what sets you apart from the other talented candidates. You have a unique background, interests and personality. This is your chance to tell your story (or at least part of it).

The best way to tell your story is to write a personal, thoughtful essay about something that has meaning for you. Be honest and genuine, and your unique qualities will shine through. Admission essays give them a better opportunity to know who you are, what your interests and capabilities are. Therefore, your essay should create a feeling that an admission officer knows you at a personal level. Don’t make the mistakes of writing too much informative essay and ignoring to give it a personal touch. Your admission will be neglected in favor of the next best candidate. The admission officer has an interest to know the contributions you will make to the school community. Well, if your admission essays mirrors you as an active student, with the capability to contribute positively to the school community, you will get an admission. However, it does not mean that you must have some very unique qualities or talents. Identify some verifiable and genuine talents you have, and how the school community is going to benefit from them.

Good Luck Rasya

John recommends the following next steps:

Include Extracurriculars Wisely – It's no secret that colleges like to see that you engaged with your school beyond the classroom. But that doesn't mean joining every club will make you a shoo-in. In fact, colleges would rather see a commitment to a few extracurricular activities than a race to sign up for every club available, especially if it means you took a leadership role in one or two of them. Quality beats quantity here.
Community Service – Think beyond the extracurricular activities at your school, too. Taking up a cause you're passionate about in the community is a great idea. This could be volunteering at a local health clinic, fighting for social justice or lending your skills to a charity. If you're passionate about it, that will come through in your application.
Show That You Challenge Yourself – Colleges aren't just looking for students who have good numbers, they are looking for students who challenge themselves. That means getting a B in an AP course, a International Baccalaureate (IB) course or a dual enrollment class at a local community college may look better than an A in a regular course.
Check in Regularly – You don't have to send off your application and then twiddle your thumbs while you wait to hear. You can stop by campus for a visit, call the admissions office or send in a thank you note to make your presence felt from time to time. This shows the admissions officers that you care and you're passionate about attending their school.
Be Careful with Social Media – Admissions officers might not spend a ton of time digging into a candidate's social media accounts but it's a tool many of them use. Posts that show a lack of judgment, poor character or anything that contradicts the persona you present in your application can count against you. Before you send your applications out, it might be a good idea to scrub your social media accounts for questionable content.

Thank You Jo. The best time to do something significant is between yesterday and tomorrow. John Frick

Thank You Lily. “If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever.” — Kofi Annan John Frick

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Lily’s Answer

Hi Rasya,

In addition to all the great tips posted prior, I have also heard from some of my friends and mentors that sometimes going on a college tour (as Sunny mentioned) or showing that you are interested and passionate about the university/college helps with your application. An example of this , and if you are comfortable with it, could be to opt in for a college interview (different guidelines on this for different colleges). Another way you can show interest is to connect with the college representatives during college fairs and ask them questions that you think would be helpful for you to make a decision. When you write your college/personal essay, I do recommend researching on what the college prioritizes for their values, the types of students and activities (ex. integrity, students who give back to their community). Also, if you already have a career path in mind, double check if that college has the major or classes you want to take. However, make sure that your essay is authentic and shows a part of you (like John said). Through researching about the school's values and activities, you can also check to see if that school is a good fit for you and whether you have personal stories that can show how you carry the school's values.

Lily recommends the following next steps:

Schedule a college tour (if you have the time, but with the pandemic, I believe there are virtual tours as well)
Research about the college's interview guidelines/preferences and decide whether you want to opt in/out of a college interview
Go to college fairs and connect with the representatives at their booths, ask questions that can help you decide which school you want to prioritize applying to or would help you make a decision
Research the college's values, student representation, types of clubs and activities, and majors/classes (if you know what you want to study) available; reflect on how you embody those values (and it could help with your conclusion in the personal essay too) and whether the college is a good fit for you

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Donnie’s Answer

A great way to stand out during the college admissions process is to make sure your grades are all set, prepare for the ACT, and make sure your college essay stands out. I'm not sure how much the process has changed since I went through it, but a few years ago when I was applying to schools, all the colleges and universities that had the "common app" required only one essay. I made sure I took my time and got some help from my school's english tutors to ensure I had the best possible essay I could write. I think that focusing on things that will set you apart in the eyes of the admissions office is critical. Good luck on your journey!

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Chloe’s Answer

Hi there,
I think the above responses contain great advice that I don't need to repeat here. I just wanted to add a note to emphasize authenticity in your application. Don't try to alter to your image in a way you think the colleges will want because they can tell when someone is being fake. Really stay true to yourself and let your passions/skills come through. A good academic record speaks for itself (congratulations on that, by the way!). So definitely make sure the essay and other application questions showcase the human side of you. The more college admissions can connect with you as a person, the more likely they will want to see you attending their school. Also, Sunny's answer was spot on: one of the best ways to embody passion is to show how what you are doing now connects with what you want to be doing in the future (This is true even if the subject matter seems unrelated. If you are simply developing skills that will help you, that works too!)
So, avoid generic stories that focus on surface level events and really try to demonstrate who you are and why you would add value and diversity to their school.

Chloe recommends the following next steps:

Pick the top 3 qualities you think makes yourself a good candidate and check if they are being represented in your essay.
Ask someone who knows you well (friend/family/etc.) to read your essay and see if it really represents you
Think about the challenges you have faced and how they have shaped who you are. College is a challenge and they want to make sure you're ready for it!

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Simeon’s Answer

The only further stretch goal I can think of is to design and lead your own local service project and be able to add it to your applications/resumes. Something that reflects your giftings and passions. That would show a lot of initiative and leadership. It would probably help in the interview process as well.

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Sunny’s Answer

Hi Rasya,

I agree that your essay will be very important to stand out in the admission process. To add to that, it might be also helpful to make connections between your extracurriculars and the school/major that you apply for. For example, if you write the things that you learned from your activities (leadership, teamwork, analytical skills, patience, understanding others, etc.), then you can also add how these characteristics can contribute to the school so that it can show why you are the best candidate. I also think it is good to take a school tour to learn about the school's history and find more resources to add to your essay.

Good luck!

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Donnie’s Answer

A great way to stand out during the college admissions process is to make sure your grades are all set, prepare for the ACT, and make sure your college essay stands out. I'm not sure how much the process has changed since I went through it, but a few years ago when I was applying to schools, all the colleges and universities that had the "common app" required only one essay. I made sure I took my time and got some help from my school's english tutors to ensure I had the best possible essay I could write. I think that focusing on things that will set you apart in the eyes of the admissions office is critical. Good luck on your journey!

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Carly’s Answer

Hi!

Some of my best advice would be to do your research. Learn what values each college/university embody's and promotes. Illustrate what about your experiences and background fit in with the image of the school. As important as authenticity is, schools also want to admit students that will promote the image they want.

Best wishes!

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Celeste’s Answer

First and foremost congrats to you on working on college applications! They can seem intimidating at first but I'm glad that you were able to pull through. Although each college is different most require letters of recommendation or a personal statement. This will give admissions and idea or sense of who you are as a person as well as a student. This can definitely boost your application. Also, providing community service in which you've displayed leadership positions. For example volunteering at a soup kitchen and you were in charge of distributing meals. Admissions like to see that you are dedicated to your studies but as well as the community!

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Donnie’s Answer

A great way to stand out during the college admissions process is to make sure your grades are all set, prepare for the ACT, and make sure your college essay stands out. I'm not sure how much the process has changed since I went through it, but a few years ago when I was applying to schools, all the colleges and universities that had the "common app" required only one essay. I made sure I took my time and got some help from my school's english tutors to ensure I had the best possible essay I could write. I think that focusing on things that will set you apart in the eyes of the admissions office is critical. Good luck on your journey!

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Georgeta’s Answer

Get personal in your essays! A college essay is an important part of the application process. Be transparent, and be you!

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