How to stand out on a college application

Hundreds of applications come cross the desks of admissions officers every year. What can you do to help them remember you?

The key to your success is, be prepared to tell your true and authentic story. What makes you, you? Admissions officers are interested to hear about yours successes and how you overcame your failures. They are eager to learn how you plan to make a difference both on and off campus.

Pay Extra Attention to the Application Instructions

  • Allow plenty of time to complete your application
  • Review and double-check every question
  • Don’t exceed the maximum word counts on essays and short answers. Only include extra materials if asked to do so

Capture Their Attention With Your Personal Story

Start with an opening sentence that is unexpected and raises a question in your readers mind. This will capture their attention and make you more memorable. A good place to start is by writing about a specific moments in your life and how it affected you.

Don’t Generalize or Quote Inaccurate Facts

  • Application readers are really turned off when an applicant uses the wrong college name or incorrect college facts in his application. (again, attention to detail)
  • Don’t be vague or generalize when answering the short answers, instead be specific tell them what it is about their college that you really like
  • For example, you could mention how their college offers programs you haven’t been able to find at other colleges or there is a certain class/professor you want
  • Get your facts straight
  • Cookie-cutter application don’t cut it

Demonstrated Interest is a Big Deal!

  • Make a point of visiting the campus
  • Set up an appointment to meet your college representatives
  • Make special appointments with professors and department heads
  • Talk to student leaders
  • Be sure to researched the college’s website in depth that way you can discuss topics that directly correlate to your major or the college. This will show the admissions advisor that you have done your homework!

Show The College You Are Commitment

Apply early. If you are pretty confident that “College A” is one of your top choices, early action decision will put your application at the front of the line. If you’ve exhausted your research for potential colleges and know that without a doubt “College B” is the school for you, then you should apply early decision. Keep in mind this is a binding contract so once you commit to College B, you will have to retract any verbal early action commitment you may have made with another college.

Other Ways to Stand Out

  • Get letters of recommendation from people who really knows your character, work ethic, commitment and dedication.
  • Assess your academic strength. Could you improve in any area, how are your standardized test scores? Could you take the test again and do better? Are you challenging yourself in your high schools classes with AP courses, are you taking a foreign language? (some colleges and universities require 3-4 years of foreign language).
  • Include a resume of your accomplishments. Just be sure the college accepts resumes with applications.
  • Manage your online self. This is super important. If necessary “Clean up” anything on social media that could be questionable. A good barometer would be to ask yourself, Would I be OK if my grandmother saw my Facebook, or Instagram accounts? Make sure the college sees the person you want them to know.