5 Things You Can Do To Make Your College App Stand Out

There are things you can do make your college app stand out

Flickr user Steven Depolo

When assessing applications and shortlisting candidates who are a good fit for their college, admissions authorities look for more than just academic grades. While your transcripts may be a key criteria, colleges also want to know who you are beyond academics. Are you a good leader? What is the extent of your social and community involvement? What extracurricular activities do you spend time on? What does your social networking say about you? The more boxes you tick, the better your chances of gaining admission into the college of your choice.

Here are five things you can do to make your college app stand out.

1 Manage Your Online Presence

Almost everybody has done it at some time or the other—posted embarrassing photographs on Facebook, made inappropriate comments on other people’s posts, and generally used social networking sites for our personal amusement. It may have seemed like harmless fun at the time but from a college’s perspective, your online presence is a reflection of who you are. And yes, they will check to see what they can find about your social media pages. Fortunately, it is easy to make your online presence work for you.

First, spend some time going through all of your social networking sites and delete all inappropriate posts, tweets, and pictures. Once you’ve done that, start using these sites to draw attention to those interests, achievements, and extracurricular activities that will enhance your application.

2 Think About Your Application Essay Topic

Brainstorm a topic for your essay. Don’t just pick something that would be easiest to work on. It is more important to choose a topic that will tell the reader something about you. Pick an experience that moved you and talk about how it changed you. Or pick a learning experience and talk about what you learned from it.  Emphasize what you will bring to the school and what you hope to get from the time spent at that college.

Start working on your essay early so you have plenty of time to think about topics, tweak the completed essay and maybe even change the topic completely if you want to.

3 Reflect on Your Extracurricular Activities

Colleges look for students who show initiative, leadership qualities, and a strong community spirit. Reflecting on your extracurricular activities is a great way to show them that you have what they are looking for. Instead of just making a list of all the activities you’ve participated in, it is more important to talk about what you learned from your involvement in these activities and how they honed your leadership qualities or strengthened your community spirit.

Take this one step further by highlighting how you can use these qualities within the school community.

4 Work Towards Getting A Strong Letter of Recommendation

Your recommendation letters are the only thing in your application that you do not have complete control over, but there are a few things you can do to influence how it shapes up.

Choose a teacher who knows you well enough to write a compelling letter recommending you as an asset to any college that accepts you. Ask early so your chosen writer has sufficient time to think about what to say. Provide the chosen writer with all relevant details about your grades, achievements, strengths and goals so that they can write a letter that reflects all of these qualities.

5 Pay Attention to Details

With all other aspects being equal between you and your competitors, it comes down to the little details and these can make or break your application. Before submitting your application to any college, go through the college website and re-check their requirements. Have they asked for one recommendation letter or two? Do they require you to submit ACT / SAT scores? Make sure your application complies with all of their requirements.

Also go through all of the forms you’ve filled and your essay. Is all the information filled out correctly? Correct all typos, grammatical errors, and common mistakes before submitting.

College admissions are highly competitive. The only way to beat this strong competition is to take time to put together a strong college application that stands out from the rest. The above five tips will help you do that.

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