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How can I stand out in college applications?

And what are some topics to write about in essays to help me have a strong application?

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Subject: Career question for you

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Paul’s Answer

One thing I can recommend is volunteerism and public service.

I have sat on committees for college scholarships and entrance, and I can tell you we were very impressed with individuals who participated in activities like this.

They were applicants who stood out because they were dedicated to service to others, and made their community a better place.
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Amalya’s Answer

Hi Sophie,

To stand out in college applications, you should stand out in life. I mean college applications just reflect your real achievements and success, both academic and non-academic. Anyway, try to emphasize your strengths, motivation for study, challenges that you've coped with, efforts that you've taken, and so on. Your writing style is also important. Impressive writing can play a crucial role.
Write about your motivation of studying, why you need to study at a particular college, and how you will use that academic experience in your future.
All the best and outstanding future college applications to you!
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Mackenzie’s Answer

Unique Perspective: If you have a unique background or life experience, use it to your advantage in your application. Diversity of thought and experience can be valuable to colleges.

Authenticity: Be yourself throughout the application process. Admissions committees can often recognize when an application is trying too hard to impress. Authenticity and honesty are valued.

Impressive Interview Performance: If interviews are part of the application process, prepare and practice for them. Showcase your enthusiasm, communication skills, and interest in the college.

Passion Projects: If you have a passion or project that goes beyond your regular coursework, highlight it. Whether it's starting a club, organizing events, or creating your own initiatives, demonstrating initiative and leadership can make you stand out.

Remember that every school is looking for people who will be a good fit for their institution, so do your best to tailor your application to each school to which you're applying. Also take time to make sure your application is well-organized and error-free application. Attention to detail can leave a really good impression.
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Martha’s Answer

Excellent question, Sophie! Having a strong essay is less about the specific topics and more about how you address the topics. Most colleges accept the Common App so I would start with those prompts - https://www.commonapp.org/blog/2023-2024-common-app-essay-prompts. Identify the prompts that appeal to you and write notes on how you would answer them.

As Amalya and Mackenzie have indicated, the essay is to get to know your personality and values, as well as how you think and express yourself. And, as they said, it should help the admission officers imagine you at their campus. It may be tempting to use your SAT vocabulary and creative writing skills in the essay, but I advise you to use these devices only if they serve your message.

Leave yourself time to do a few drafts to correct any grammatical errors and improve the flow. Have someone else read it and tell you what the essay communicates about you. If they can't say, the essay may need more editing.

Good luck!
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TaNia’s Answer

Absolutely, Sophie! There are numerous ways to make your college application shine. Start by including any extracurricular activities you've participated in, especially those you did over the summer. Engaging in community service or local projects can also add weight to your application. Don't be afraid to get a bit personal too. Sharing interesting facts about yourself and your family can help paint a more vivid picture of who you are.
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Elizabeth (Betsy)’s Answer

These are fantastic responses indeed. One more idea you might consider is to have a chat with close friends, family, and community members you often interact with. Ask them to share their perception of you. How would they highlight your strengths and the qualities that make you unique? These alternative viewpoints can provide a more personal touch and additional context to your essay responses. You can present these insights as third-party observations to strengthen your arguments, such as "as my coach pointed out" or "my teacher always perceives me in this manner", and so on. This approach not only demonstrates to the college admissions committees that you value diverse perspectives in your thought process, but also in crafting your essays. Wishing you all the best!
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