How can students stand out on their application?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

How can students stand out on their application?

Janet Rapelye

How can students stand out on their application?

Here is my video response to the question.

Nina Berler
Founder unCommon Apps

Standing Out on the Application . . .

. . . is easy! The goal is to show the college that you are a great student who has a few interests about which you are passionate. In addition, you must make sure the school knows how much you know about it and why it'd be your favorite place to wind up as an undergraduate. That sounds like a great deal, but map it out first. Next, make sure you convey these items in the appropriate areas of your question. For example, for the 1000 character essay about one of your activities, pick something very special which is different from your Personal Essay. On the supplements make sure you do an impeccably proofed, carefully worded response to why X school is the school for you and what you will bring to the community. Reference courses, buildlings and even professors to make your case. Regarding other items, make sure your Personal Essay is unique and completely proofed in every way. You don't want to stand out because of a mistake! Make sure the essay is totally about you and is light and upbeat.

William Chichester

How can students stand out on their application?

Visit the school! Talk about the clubs you would participate in if you were admitted. Talk about the classes you would take if you were admitted. Determine what your major would be and find out who runs the department. Learn about the professors in that department and what they specialize in. Does someone interest you where you would want to assist them with research? Talk about these things in your essay. Research the school. Talk with alumni. Research the alumni chapter in your local town and set up an informational overview where you speak with them for 15-30 mins by phone.

Ellen erichards@ellened.com
Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting

It's not too early to build an education resume to prepare for the job market, but do what you love

In order to gain a competitive edge for college applications, students need to begin preaparing by fostering their passions during their freshman year of high school. While many students and parents recognize the need for academic excellence from day one, many fail to recognize the importance of building a resume early on. Just as one builds a strong GPA, transcript and test scores over the course of four years, so the resume needs to be built. While college admissions officers expect academic excellence, they also want to see well-rounded and involved young adults - students that demonstrate an interest and investment in the world around them. They want individuals that will not only contribute to their college campus, but also to the world at large. The activities and accomplishments on a resume are some of the crucial ways in which a student can reflect his or her individuality. The nuances of a student’s personality are best reflected by the way they spend their time and energy. Similarly, important qualities that demonstrate a student’s ability to thrive in the college environment are shown through the student’s involvement. Maintaining commitment to an activity or organization over a long period of time, demonstrates a students dedication. Balancing academic work with extracurricular activities shows a student’s ability to prioritize and manage time. Taking on prominent positions in a group, organization or team, and excelling in these positions, shows vital leadership skills. Involvement illustrates a worldliness in the student and a desire to make a contribution. While these qualities are important, showing your individuality is also of the utmost importance. There is no golden activity that is going to impress a college admissions officer, the impressive part is what you do within your activity and how you demonstrate those qualities mentioned above. It is your level of involvement, the amount of leadership and initiative shown, and the desire to make an impact that truly make an impression. There is no need to force any particular activity on a student. The important thing is to find activities that the student is interested in and passionate about. If you’re not interested in the debate team, join the French club and find ways to organize cultural events and get the club involved in the community. If you play in a rock band – great, but don’t just hang out in the garage – find a way to organize a charity show or enter a local band competition. If you enjoy playing basketball – join your high school team and work towards being the team captain and making the varsity team. If you like designing clothes - get involved with your school’s theater department and design costumes. Be creative with your passions and try to find ways to turn your hobbies and interests into ways to make a difference. Accomplish something meaningful with the things you love to do.

Suzan Reznick
Independent Educational Consultant The College Connection

The details do count here!

Since the Common Application, as well as other online applications, do homogenize the output, you need to ensure that your applications do have the kind of impact that is needed for success. Don't assume that the colleges know what acronyms such as SADD. MADD etc would stand for. Spell it all out for them. And don't assume that they will know that you founded that club and ran a food-drive that raised money for starving orphans! Give them all the key details, that fit, on your applications. Your application is NOT the place to be humble- if you received an important award of honor- make sure that you list it ( with an explanation if necessary). Choose the topics carefully for your essays, because this a critical component of your application. The essay should not be a laundry list of accomplishments, but the chance for your personal qualities to shine through.

Rana Slosberg
Owner Slosberg College Solutions LLC

The essay

The essay is one way students can stand out. Students should make sure that the essay lets the admissions officer learn something important about you that does not appear elsewhere on the application and demonstrates how well you write.

Helen H. Choi
Owner Admissions Mavens

How can students stand out on their application?

Students can stand out in the application process by standing out in real life. If you challenge yourself academically, choose your activities thoughtfully, and pursue your passions authentically -- you will stand out. Don't be lemming and don't follow others' leads blindly. Just because "everyone" joins Model UN because it "looks good" on your application or "everyone" says you have to be "well-rounded" -- doesn't mean it's true. Think about the choices you make and don't be afraid to choose the path that speaks to your heart. If you follow the path that "everyone" else is taking -- it will be very difficult for you to show your humanity and individuality during college admissions time. So -- do you have to do well academically? Yes. Do you have to challenge yourself? Yes. Do you have to engage yourself outside of the classroom? Yes. But if you can do those things thoughtfully, deliberately, and with courage and verve -- you can stand out and show that you are more than the sum of your test scores and GPA.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

How can students stand out on their application?

The central goal of your application must always be to provide as complete a picture as possible of who you are and what you can contribute to the school community. In competing with others you need to offer something that makes you stand out from the rest. A singular skill or achievement, an accomplishment that is not seen in the next half dozen that are reviewed is the kind of thing they are looking for. At the same time an array of great, but not one of a kind accomplishments, can also yield success. Ultimately the final decision is often less about the student than about the school and its efforts to determine who will best fill its institutional needs. A selective school has the luxury of selecting a single applicant from a number of qualified ones and so they have a responsibility to make sure that certain talents and certain demographic needs are met.

Mary Mariani

How can students stand out on their application?

Good grades and test scores, a rigorous academic program, and a full compliment of academic classes during all four years are all necessary to be accepted into a good school. A list of a thousand activities will not be helpful. But if you have excelled in some activities, been an officer, or made an important contribution to the school or an organization, that would be worth noting. Also if you have done something for your community (school or neighborhood or town/city) that has had a positive impact and shows your commitment to your community, that would also be worth noting. Colleges don't like a list of a thousand things that you have done. They want to see that you have really put in an effort to be helpful and contributing - not just a member - of both you school and community.

Angela Conley
College Admission Expert VentureForth

How can students stand out on their application?

Bring your "A" game. Do the usual having someone proof your responses before you upload them. Share a story, and in so doing avoid "I am the kind of person who" statements. The best essays share a story that provides context and hue as to the adjectives which best demonstrate your personality. Excellence in one or more arenas also adds profile to make your file singular. Most of the students with whom I've collaborated share stories about overcoming an issue or experience which reveal resilience or an abilty to laugh at oneself. In sum, don't tell the committee or readers "I am;" show them with cogent, concise examples. If they laugh out loud or pause to re-read, you did well.