How To Make Your College Application Stand Out
Last updated May 9, 2022
There are a variety of things colleges review when considering to admit a student - like test scores (like SAT/ACT), GPAs, grades, application essays, and letters of recommendation. While each of these materials are important ways colleges get to know your academic history and capabilities, some might not highlight what makes you, you! It's essential for colleges to see that you're a student committed to getting good grades and succeeding, but it's also just as important for them to learn more about you - what are your values, passions, and plans for the future? What makes you unique? What makes you stand out from other applicants? How will your experiences and perspectives shape your college experience? Being able to answer these questions through your college application is key.
Depending on the college you're applying to, there may be less spots to fill or a more rigorous and intense application and review process, so standing out and making a strong impression through your application materials is key. College admissions officers look at a lot of applications during the busy season - here are two tips for making a strong impression with yours!
Make your application essay personal and authentic
The key to writing a good college essay is being specific, reflective, and transparent about your experiences and what events have shaped you into the unique person you are. Don't worry about what you think colleges might want to hear, but rather, think about the story you want them to hear. College essays are a space for admissions officers to learn things about you that your GPA, resume, and test scores can’t tell them. There’s a place for you to rattle off all the things you’ve achieved—your resume. Make sure your college essays are covering new ground. Maybe you’re passionate about social justice, a dedicated athlete, a caring sibling, a hard worker at your part-time job, or have beliefs or projects you’re passionate about. Any and all things like these are characteristics and interests that make you unique, and colleges love hearing about them!
Here are some things to take into consideration when writing your college essay to make sure it's real and personal:
- Does it show off my authentic self?
- Does it reflect on my experiences and identity?
- Is this a story worth sharing?
- How does this story differ from others'?
- Does it show that I want to take what I've learned and apply it to college and beyond?
Here are some practical things to take into consideration when writing your college essay:
- Does it have a clear point of view?
- Does it have a main theme or point?
- Is it free of grammatical errors?
- Does it follow a 5-paragraph structure?
- Have I chosen a topic that best tells my story?
- Am I proud to submit this essay to a college?
With all of these considerations in mind, you'll be better set up to rock your college essay. When you’re ready to start your essay, be sure to carefully review any prompts and word limits and then respond specifically to each one (you can repeat some content but make sure it flows easily and actually responds to any questions). We're here to help you every step of the way! If you want an extra pair of eyes on your essay, send it to us for a free review! We'll take a look at it and offer feedback within a week. Send us as many drafts as you need - we'll review all of them. Click the button below to submit.
Remember that extracurriculars matter
Grades are important - but they aren't everything. This is especially true when applying to colleges. Yes, a college wants to see that you are capable of handling multiple classes at once efficiently and can pass them with good grades. But they're also interested in what you do outside of the classroom, too. Your college application is a great time to talk about all of your interests and extracurricular activities you participated in throughout high school. This shows off your personality, hobbies, and interests on a much deeper level than your grades or SAT scores ever could. In fact, in response to COVID, many colleges across the country have become test-optional, meaning they no longer take SAT/ACT scores into consideration when reviewing a student's application. This means that right now, it's more important than ever to show off your other skills, interests, and assets on your applications. Here are some extracurriculars you can include:
- Student government
- Volunteer work, both virtually and for political organizations
- Part-time or summer jobs
- Side hustles
- Instruments or reading
- Second languages
A great way to demonstrate your passion for or commitment to these extracurriculars is by saving any relevant accolades related to them, like awards, newspaper clippings, articles, etc. Another great way to show off these interests is to create a resume. Your resume can quickly and efficiently list all of your extracurriculars in one place. Don't have a resume? Use our free template to create one, and when you're finished, send it to us for free review! We'll have it back to you within a week with feedback. Click the button below to submit.
If you need help working on your college applications or essays, text #Hello to 33-55-77! Our college advisors are here to help and answer all of your questions.