What is a college admissions hook?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

What is a college admissions hook?

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.

Margaret Tung
Strategist Yale University

What is a college admissions hook?

A hook is something that makes you tick--or something you're passionate about that is unique. Maybe you're really into fly-fishing, maybe you're into taxidermy (hopefully scientifically, not as a creepy obsession), maybe you're multi-racial and you're living in an otherwise homogenous community and you have an interesting experience to reflect on. Basically, what makes you stand out from your peers? Think about who your peers are...maybe on paper you're a hardcore science nerd, but you've volunteered summer after summer at a poetry camp for kids and you've published a small book of poems because you have a burning desire to be the next poet laureate, after you save the world through rocket science. But it doesn't have to be something super extraordinary like that, even. Maybe you're just good at something--it doesn't have to be unique--and you care about it so much you touch it in all parts of your life. Say you're on the high school basketball team and on weekends you coach basketball for youths, or you started a basketball fan club where everyone runs stats and watches plays together and analyzes the game, or you start a weekly basketball game at a hospital for patients in PT who are close to full recovery, or you've researched some way to make manufacturing basketballs more sustainable. You see what I mean. An admissions hook is: you love something and you've done a lot within your power to get out there and make sure it's in your life.

Angela Conley
College Admission Expert VentureForth

What is a college admissions hook?

The often much discussed "hook" is the aspect or components of your application that grab the readers' attention by virtue of memorability, poignancy or singular impact. I once read a hilarious love story about a boy and his laptop. It is not specific to a topic or tone as much as the "one thing" you shared or described that makes it difficult for the reviewer to dismiss your story or outcome.

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.

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.

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.