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.

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.

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.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

How can students stand out on their application?

Having 1,000 or more community service hrs in combination w/a high GPA. Fluency in 3 languages is always a plus as well. SAT/ACT scores from 9th or 10 grade can also be impressive in addition to dual enrollment. These are just a few.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

How can students stand out on their application?

Evidence of a high degree of excellence, leadership and creativity in one or two specialties will always stand out as will well written compelling essays.

Sarah Contomichalos
Manager Educational Advisory Services, LLC

How can students stand out on their application?

Applications that stand out are well written, cohesive and interesting to read.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

How can students stand out on their application?

The best way to make your application stand out is to make your essay memorable. Admissions officers read a LOT of applications and they can all blur together. If you can make them laugh, nod in agreement, relate to what you are saying; chances are that you will be remembered during the final cut and that is a good thing. The essay is your chance to put a face on your admission application. Schools are looking for values, experiences you will continue on campus, something about you that isn't mentioned anywhere else in the application; make it fun to read.

Mark Maiewski

How can students stand out on their application?

The essay is important. Your recommendations need to be amazing. Be sure the application is complete. Read, re-read, and proof read; spelling errors will kill your chances (don’t rely on spell check—it doesn’t work on its own). But the most important thing you need to focus on is DEADLINES. It doesn’t matter how great your essay or how perfect your application, missing the deadline will guarantee a rejection. Some schools have rolling admissions which means your “late” application will be put into the next group. But at most selective schools, meeting deadlines is your first college “test”. Don’t fail it. Along with deadlines, be sure you CAREFULLY read the application requirements. Skimming is your worst enemy here. Understanding what is required is the second college “test”.