College applications can me long and tedious, and often they vary from school to school. On top of that, each person reviewing your application is looking over literally hundreds of other applications. Making yours stand out can seem like an impossible task. The important thing is to make them get to know you. Show them what you’re made of and why you deserve that acceptance letter. Here are 15 good things to put on a college application that are sure to get you in.
Okay, this is obvious. Most schools request a copy of your transcript anyway, but this is still a good thing to highlight. If you started high school unprepared and got smacked with a C that you worked up to an A, mention it! Sell yourself as someone who doesn’t back down from a challenge.
On that note, highlight any outstanding achievements you have. Whether they’re academic, athletic or co-curricular awards, now is the time to brag. You’re never again going to be able to show this off.
All work experience is good work experience! Later in life, your first job as a parking lot attendant is not going to matter much. But right now is your time to shine. Showing that you held down a job or two while juggling school is one of those really good things to put on a college application that makes you stand out that extra bit.
Did you go on that trip to Cuba with the Spanish club? Or a volunteer trip to Haiti your junior summer? Let them know! Traveling adds character and worldliness that can’t be found in your hometown. Colleges want to see that.
5. Leadership experience
If you’ve never been out of the state, don’t fret. Leadership skills are also highly sought after. If you’re president of two clubs and a captain of a sports team, you’ve got a stellar resume already. Express the work you did in these positions to improve the organizations, and emphasize how important you were.
6. Community service
This is a big one that people often forget about. If you’ve been taking care of the daycare at your church every Sunday for five years, here’s a big gold star. It’s your time to shine. Community service shows that you’ve got character and will make a positive addition to the campus life. In fact, most colleges have a specific space for this on their applications.
Speaking of character, think about anything that might prove that to them. Basically everything your mom ever told you to do “because it builds character!” can go here. Get creative.
Speaking of ineffable qualities, make sure your personality bleeds through in your apps. Each writing blurb should have your voice. Add flavor and vocabulary to your essays. Give them a sense of who you are without outright stating it.
This is probably pretty rare, but any internships you have pre-college put you miles above the competition. Very few high school students can score an internship, so if you managed it you need to tell about it. This is one of those good things to put on a college application that goes way above any beyond. You may think that it’s not very impressive because it’s not a real job or you didn’t get paid, but trust me: experience is impressive.
Back on the beaten path, we have co-curricular activities. Getting involved in your school or community is something colleges really want to see, because it’s something they’re really going to want from you. Share your exact involvement in everything from your first day of freshman year.
11. Writing experience
This may not be as vital if you’re going into a mathematical or scientific field, but writing experience is huge. Most jobs and classes end up requiring it at some point, so having a head start is a great thing. If you’ve ever been published, written for an online magazine or even a school newspaper, highlight that on your application. Of course, it will probably also shine through by giving you a boost in your finely crafted essays.
This may seem like a weaker link, but it’s actually really important. If you gave up your weekends caring for your sick aunt, or practically raised your little brother while your parents worked two jobs, you need to let the schools know. Selflessly taking care of your family is a great quality to have.
Soccer isn’t just running around and kicking a ball. It’s a daily commitment of the mind and body on top of the regular work of school. Three season athletes are very good at time management, and schools know this. It is one of the really good things to put on a college application that gets overlooked by advisors. Also, if you got an award for being the best at raising team moral, see “2. Awards.”
14. Academic achievements
You don’t have to have earned a specific award to have an academic achievement. If you’ve gotten honors or high honors in your high school career, let them know now! Especially if you got it consistently, for a few semesters or a few years.
15. Test scores
Like community service and leadership skills, most applications include a space for your test scores on common exams like the SAT or ACT. If they don’t, or only have space for one, make sure you throw in whatever one you’ve taken if you did well. Standardized testing shows more than just intelligence: it shows logical ability, time management skills, and perseverance if you took it repeatedly to get the score you wanted.