What is a college admissions hook?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

What is a college admissions hook?

Suzan Reznick
Independent Educational Consultant The College Connection

A reason for a college to want YOU!

All schools expect to put together a bright freshman class and to do that they review your grades, classes and test scores. But, because there are so many bright students applying each year, they do a finer review of each application looking for those with a "hook". A Hook could be defined as having a special talent. That talent could certainly be athletic- i.e. a state ranked athlete. Or your talent might be in the arts, where you have an extensive theater, music or dance resume. There are many different types of hooks and colleges need to fill their sports teams, their orchestras, debate teams, newspapers etc. with the most talented students possible. Having a hook will not take the place of a poor academic profile, but for those students "on the bubble" it might certainly make the different as to their admissions decision.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

The Hook

When most people talk about having a "hook", I believe they are referring to their essay. It's the opening line that catches the reader's attention and makes them want to keep reading. Some people may think it refers to the "spike" in you profile that makes you stand out from the crowd. While you appear well-rounded, there is an area that you are REALLY passionate about, or that makes you really unique aside from the rest of your application. You can't force a "spike", you either have one or you don't.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

College Admissions Hook:

A "hook" is another aspect of your admissions file which could be an extra incentive to the admissions office to send you the acceptance letter. Depending on the requirements and priorities of the college, such qualities could include but are not limited to talents such as athletics or music to legacies to development admits to diversity.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

The Right Hook Can Land a Big Fish

In the world of college admissions a hook is the thing that sets an applicant apart. At a selective school that is sifting through a seemingly endless number of highly qualified applicants, a hook is the thing--a specific and special talent (a long snapper in football), a singular accomplishment (any patents on file?), a piece of your story (overcoming a critical illness) that separates someone from the pack and gives the admission office a reason to accept them instead of the 5, 6, or 7 others who could fill that space. Every high school has a student government president, every school has a valedictorian, but there are other, more distinctive things that can set an applicant apart. Not everyone has a distinctive hook. Great all around records still count for a lot, but to have a hook on top of that can be of great value.

Geoff Broome
Assistant Director of Admissions Widener University

hooks and lures

Hooks are things that stick out on an application i.e. athlete, legacy, music, band.

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

What is a college admissions hook?

In my opinion it's something extraordinary that makes the student stand out like Yao Ming does in a crowd.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

What is a college admissions hook?

A hook is a combination of attributes that you highlight in your application. It can be academic, cultural, ethnic, athletic, artistic, philosophical or many other possibilities. For instance, you may be a basketball player who intends to major in the classics. When a highly selective college is trying to put together a well rounded class, it means they want unique and pointy individuals. Having a hook is invaluable.

Sarah Contomichalos
Manager Educational Advisory Services, LLC

What is a college admissions hook?

A college admissions hook is a special talent or attribute that makes the student stand out from other applicants. Examples of hooks include athletics, legacies, musicians, artists, linguists, or interest in a specific program offered at a particular college.

Carita Del Valle
Founder Academic Decisions

What is a college admissions hook?

A college admissions hook is an special attribute a student will bring to a school. It can be a talent, a specific diversity, or legacy among a host of other items.

Janelle Braverman
Educational Consultant Independent University Advisors, LLC

What is a college admissions hook?

The hook is any or multiple elements of your profile that stand out and could be used by admissions officers to describe you during committee discussions or written evaluations. As admissions get more and more competitive the hook becomes more elaborate. It’s not enough just to be the valedictorian or the star swimmer. Now it might sound something like: the valedictorian, star swimmer boy who loves poetry and has won several national competitions; or, a girl in the top 10% of her class who has won film competitions for directing and who is graduating one year early to volunteer providing HIV/AIDs Prevention Support at a pre-school in South Africa; or a student who works 40 hours/week to help support their family financially and is still in the top 10% of their graduating class. I should say that these profiles are made up, but represent the caliber of achievement and experience that a competitive applicant to a top university would have. To find your hook, think about 1) activities you’re good at 2) activities you enjoy 3) how to tie it all together.