How to stand out to admissions professionals

College Admissions

By Catherine L. Marrs, Your Collegiate Advocate, Llc
06/01/2015
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Everyone knows that grades and test scores are what makes a student stand out, but what else does it take to impress an admissions officer?

Here are two important concepts students need to realize in today’s college admission arena:

  • Colleges are NOT looking for the proverbial, well-rounded student. Rather, they are seeking well-rounded, diverse classes of students.
  • Colleges do NOT judge students by the lack of strength in traditional extracurricular activities…as long as they are spending time doing other worthwhile activities – such as caring for younger siblings or grandparents or working to support the family.

Important aspects of a student’s college application that Admissions Professionals focus on are:

  • How a student chooses to spend his/her time
  • Demonstrates special talents or skills
  • Provides evidence of character and personality
  • Compliments ideas presented within the student’s academic profile.

These aspects give admissions professionals an idea of how the student might contribute to their college environment, if accepted.

Hopefully, students have the opportunity to interview at their selected colleges. Sometimes that is not possible, but many schools still offer some form of an interview. Students who have a passion for either an activity or a cause usually interview better than students who have not developed a love for something in particular outside of the classroom. Building “depth” helps students develop that passion.

What is “Depth”? It is what makes a person interesting. Doing interesting activities that one has a passion for and by experiencing different things creates "depth" in an applicant. Depth also creates great activity resumes!  Most all colleges want to see a student’s activity resume.  Students need to keep in mind that colleges can tell when a student does things to simply build a resume.

Five aspects of Depth-building in terms of college planning are:

  • High School Club involvement
  • Community Organization involvement (Boy Scouts, Red Cross)
  • High School and Club Athletics
  • Community Service Activities
  • Travel

Not every student has the opportunity to do all of the above depth-building activities. It is easier to demonstrate to college admissions professionals a commitment to an extracurricular activity or job by the length of time the student has been involved with it. Take on any leadership positions, such as an officer of a club or captain/co-captain or manager of a team. Students are more likely to develop better interpersonal skills if they are participating…not “being on the outside looking in.”

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