Applying to college is a stressful process that every junior and senior dreads… Yet, we all go through it and reflect upon the journey once its over. After experiencing my own, I recognized some key commonalities between what most colleges recommended and all the most successful applications shared. Here are the top five things you should focus on when drafting your college application!
Well Rounded, But POINTY!
We all have been told thousands and thousands of times to make sure we are rounded circles! “Be in clubs! Do a sport! Don’t forget to volunteer!” Although these are all very important parts of an application, what most people end up doing is jumping at any opportunity that comes their way, without taking a second to reflect on whether or not a certain club mirrors their interests and passions. College admission officers can easily tell the difference between a resume fluffer and a real extracurricular! Being part of the Model United Nations club is far more impressive for an international relations major applicant, then an architecture major. Be specific and picky in what you spend your time doing. Emphasize your passions through your extracurriculars!
Your Essay Should Scream Your Name!
This is YOUR chance to introduce yourself to the admissions officers. Imagine an interview in which you knew all the questions, and had months and months on end to prepare the perfect answer for. Be creative! Be adventurous! Be yourself! College admissions officers read over thousands of essays every year, they’ve seen it all – the ambitious cancer curer, the aspiring politician, the Hollywood famous actor, and more. Make sure your essay is the one that that they will go home remembering after a long day in a cubicle. Essays don’t have to be about the biggest event in your life either, they can be about something as simple as your reasons for hating the color yellow. Be in the moment throughout your entire essay of your college application.
Your Circumstances Are Very Important!
Whether you had a tragedy in your life or moved across the country, make sure you emphasize that in your application. College admissions officers are not mind readers. They have no way of knowing that you might’ve had to sacrifice your after school time because you had to get a job to support your family. Explain your circumstances to eliminate the question marks and fill in the missing gaps. You’re not expected to be a superhuman, but you have to provide the admissions officers with your perspective.
Explain Your Extras!
Most high schools have over fifteen different clubs all with different acronyms, and there is no possible way for someone to know every single one and what their letters stand for. So when you identify a club you are a part of on your application, do not write “YM Club.” Does YM stand for Yoga and Meditation or Yorktown Mathletes Club? Define your extracurriculars! Label your position and explicate your roles in the club. Do you keep an agenda and send out meeting reminders? Do you help recruit new members? Even if you’re in an art major in a business club, defining that your role in that club is creating the flyers and posters – digitally or by hand – is very critical to admissions officers!
Supplemental Materials Are Your Friends!
Even if you are not majoring in anything art related, but have a passion for dancing or singing, submit a portfolio! If you have mentioned a hobby or passion within your application, and can provide examples of your work… DO IT. College admissions officers love to see examples of what you spend your time doing, rather than just reading about it. This also parallels number 4, it is important for your college application to define not only your journey but YOU. Make sure you are showing all aspects of who you are in your application, by submitting additional material – even if it isn’t necessary.
What’s your dream college? Have you submitted your college application yet? Let us know in the comments below!
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Erica Hur is a student majoring in Communication at the University of Southern California. In her free time, she enjoys food photography, bullet journaling, and going on trips to Disneyland.