Stand out on your college applications: eight crucial steps

College Application

By Jeannie Borin M.Ed., College Connections

Did you know we just had the most competitive cycle in college admissions history? University admission representatives receive thousands of applications for a limited number of spots. Your acceptance to your top choice schools is not solely based on your GPA and test scores. In order to limit your rejection and waitlist letters, it is imperative you are knowledgeable about the admissions process to maximize your opportunities. 

In addition to financially preparing to pay for college, remember to budget for fees associated with the application process (campus visits, standardized tests, counseling, application fees). Family support through the application cycle is important but it is ultimately the student’s process.

1. Review Your High School Profile

Take a look to see what your high school offers and create a plan for yourself with challenging courses. Many colleges like to see that you have taken the most difficult classes at your high school.

2. Know Your High School Counselor & Teachers

These are the people who will write your college recommendations. If they know you, it is more likely they can write a thorough recommendation.

3. Plan Campus Visits

If you can’t travel far, then visit colleges close to where you live.  In this way, you will learn what you like and what you don’t.  Attend information tours but leave time to go off on your own. Visit the student union, a dorm, the rec center, the center of campus, a library, sit in on a class and talk to students if possible. Deciding what college to attend will be easier come decision time. 

4. College Rep Meetings

In addition to visits, another way to learn more about a college is to attend college representative meetings in your area. You will have a chance to speak with admission representatives and get contact information so you can remain in touch. Attending these events demonstrates your interest in the college.

5. Your College List

Once you have your working college list it is important to learn as much as possible about your colleges. You may need to know some facts about a college during an interview.  Knowledge on the college can be useful when writing college essays too. A typical essay question asks why you are a good match for that school. Knowing specifics is impressive as it tells admission officers that you care enough to learn details about the college.

6. Activity Resume

Provide depth & continuity in your activities. It’s not the number of things you do it’s the quality, the focus, the leadership and the demonstrated interest that counts.

7. Portray Yourself As A Diverse Individual

Choose different essay topics that can emphasize your various interests.  Show admission officers different sides of yourself.

8. Schedule Interviews

If a college where you are applying offers an interview, sign up early and reserve your date.  Many colleges offer interviews all over the country.  So, you may not have to go to the college to get an interview.