Three Essentials for a Winning College Admissions Application
You might think that a 4.0 GPA, soaring SAT scores, and a compelling college admissions essay are all you need to get into your top university—correct? Nope, not these days, with more and more students applying for fewer spots. By 2016, graduating seniors in this country were at an all-time high of 3.2 million people.
Yes, those traditional elements are critically important for college applicants. However, another point to consider is that the top ten elite U.S. academic institutions, including the Ivy League schools, MIT, Stanford, and Juilliard, have drastically lowered their acceptance rates over the past decade. They now range between 4.65% and 9.3%.
Not to mention a Department of Education study that found that since 2007, international students applying to U.S. colleges have increased by almost 23%. Those are very tough odds.
It is a given that institutions of higher learning have high academic standards, but they look beyond the Regents Scholars and Regeneron Science Talent Search winners to fill their halls with a diversified student body.
What could you be leaving out of your application? You won’t find the answer in a library, textbook, or on your computer, but Your Best Edit can help. But if you stop at statistics and requirements with your application, you will be missing an essential component of your winning profile: extracurricular activities.
Admissions committees’ court and value candidates with extracurricular activities that spotlight these three essential qualities: Passion, Leadership, and Creativity.
· Where do your interests lie beyond those high school corridors and how have you demonstrated the depth of your interest?
· What unusual item have you been collecting for years and why?
· Did you get your ham radio license at age 10, and now use the frequency to help your neighbors during weather emergencies?
· Are you planning to be a business major, but have been tutoring elementary kids in math and science for many years?
· Show a passion for volunteering in your application and the benefit to your community. Your service will demonstrate important problem-solving skills and maturity.
· The longer your commitment to a worthwhile cause, the more of an impact you will have on the people you’re helping, as well as impressing those reading your application.
· Did your love for the great outdoors and public service projects garner you enough Boy Scout badges to achieve Eagle Scout status? What value did that leadership bring to your troop and community?
· Mentors come in all ages and sizes—are you a teen youth council leader at your synagogue or church? If so, for how long, and what initiatives have you led at your house of worship?
· Your authentic leadership qualities will be an asset to any Greek letter organization or a fundraising opportunity on campus. Try to incorporate these ideas into your in-person interview, as well as your application.
· Are you a high school senior who loves his hometown, but sees a decline in quality of life issues and participation? Start a group like Long Island's David Viana did in 2011. Since then, the Baldwin Civic Association has created a community garden, a summer music series, undertaken a traffic study, and brokered a partnership with Hofstra University to bring a computer-coding program to the local middle school.
· Leadership at its finest comes from the heart, earning you peer respect, a great work ethic, and best of all, results!
· Artistic individuals enhance university life beyond the classroom, and bring their talents to a wider audience throughout the college community
· Admissions committee members look for dancers, painters, musicians, and artisans to enrich campus clubs, performances, and events
· Showcase your most memorable high school performance in Rent, or your latest guitar composition with a YouTube video link added to your application
· Spotlighting your sideline passion for creating fashion accessories, turned into a mini Etsy empire, is application gold. You get extra points for donating a percentage of the proceeds to charity!
· Anything done well, takes time and dedication, not least of which is creative expression. Give yourself the gift of time to develop your talents, hone your skills, and add an impressive component to your college application
Although you cannot reveal these essential aspects of passion, leadership, and creativity in test scores or grades, the field is wide open for you to demonstrate your authentic depth and aspirations in other ways. As long as your interests are genuine, and not designed merely to impress, you will shine.
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