Expert Tips on How to Get into College and Stand Out From the Crowd

  • Post last modified:February 7, 2024
  • Reading time:6 mins read

If you’re looking for the perfect opportunity to show a college why it should offer you acceptance, your college application is the best place to start. If you want to make sure your application makes the best possible impact, you’re going to have to do a lot of research and polishing. 

Your goal will be to show the admissions team that you’re a good fit because your credentials align with their expectations. The college will be looking at more than your academic abilities. It will also be interested in your short and long-term goals, experiences, and overall personality. 

One surefire way to stand out is to make your application unique. Here are some tips to help you achieve that and make your application shine.   

Choose the Right High School Classes

A necessary step to college admissions is taking the right courses in high school. Prospective colleges want to see the classes you take, not only your academic standing. 

By the time you reach your senior year, you should have an idea of what you want to study in college. Try to ensure your courses coincide with that program. 

If you want to get into the medical field, for example, consider taking biology and an advanced science and mathematics course. 

Work Hard For Good Grades

A top criterion for most colleges is good grades. Once you’ve selected the right courses, make sure you study and work hard to get the highest grades you can. Do your best, study hard, and if you find yourself struggling, look for help. 

To achieve the best possible results you must take advantage of all the available resources. Develop your studying, reading, and academic skills and find a strategy that suits you. 

Tell the Story of Who You Are

A top application tip is to focus on your personal statement. A good approach is to look at your life as a book, with your college experiences being the next chapter. You are the person you are today because of your life experiences, good and bad. You can use these experiences to write a personal statement on your college applications. 

An admissions committee wants to know what makes you tick, how you’ve evolved, and what your goals are for the future. Experiences you might want to consider including are a situation where you had to take charge, an unlikely friendship that had a lasting impact on you, the first time you played a sport, learned a new skill, and similar situations. 

Gain Some Unique Work Experience

A very easy way to stand out to colleges is with unique work experience. Look around and you’ll be surprised how many interesting jobs there are out there. From leading historical tours of your city to working as an ice cream scooper, there are tons of fascinating part-time jobs. A college degree tends not to be a requirement for most of them. 

Don’t stress about finding a job that relates to your major and take comfort in the fact that working a unique job will make you some money as well as make you stand out on your application.

If you’re worried about work interfering with your studies, look for seasonal positions to keep you busy during the summer, or look for work on the weekend.  

Volunteering and Non-School Activities

Volunteering is a good way to support your potential studies. Look at what is required to be a peer tutor or see if you can help out during summer school or summer bridge programs. 

Aside from volunteering in school, look for out-of-school opportunities. Visit your local community center or YMCA. Children’s hospitals, group and nursing homes often look for volunteers for a variety of purposes.

Non-school clubs are also something you should mention, especially if you’ve been involved for a while. Eagle Scout or Gold Award merits are obvious additions, but remember to include the years you’ve spent taking dance classes and sailing. You can find a place for these and other memberships of less traditional clubs in the Activities section of the application. 

Manage Your Social Media Presence 

Some college admissions officers will check out your social media profiles as these offer additional insights into a prospective student’s life. They’ll be able to learn about your opinions, beliefs, extracurricular activities, and more.

Video Essay

Video essays have been gaining popularity in recent years. Many schools give you this option in place of the standard application essay. Others accept it as supplemental material. 

A superb video essay is the perfect opportunity to assert your professionalism and dedication. It also puts a face to your name, but remember that first impressions matter exponentially. 

Making your college application stand out among scores of other applicants takes a lot of work. Keep in mind that not all students put in the extra effort. Even doing just a couple of things from the list will help put you ahead of the game.

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