Posted on July 9, 2010. Filed under: admissions advice, college admissions, College Advice, college applications, college counseling, college news, college prep, education | Tags: , , , , , , |

With the number of college applications on the rise and acceptance rates on the decline, gaining admission to selective universities is becoming increasingly competitive. Many families feel the stress of the college process with some universities accepting fewer than 7%.

Those applying to selective colleges need as much guidance as possible.

It’s important to remember that admission officers read thousands of

applications and are impressed with those students that can differentiate

themselves from the crowd

Here’s how to stand out on your apps:

Although a challenging curriculum, strong GPA and stellar test scores (for

schools that require test scores) are essential, other sections of the college

application are increasingly important.

–       Select essay topics that are unique. Present yourself as a diversified individual.  Do not repeat what is elsewhere on your application. The essay is an opportunity to let admission officers know another side of you.  Make sure your writing is character driven.  Find a “slice of life” story that belongs just to you. Topics can be as simple as a family meal, your part time job or about a distinctive hobby.  Steer clear of typical topics such as family trips, a sick relative or a community service project.

–       Many colleges ask the “Why?” question – Why are you a good match for that college. Make sure that short essay is about you and not the university.  After all, they know about their college. Admission officers want to learn as much about you as possible. Research specifics about the college that cannot be found anywhere else and connect these details to your interests.

–       Show that you have initiated groups, organizations and programs in your hometown. Take action in your community. It’s not necessary to participate in expensive abroad programs and rebuild neighborhoods in third world countries

–       Learn the different ways to apply to the colleges on your list whether it is an Early Decision Plan or Rolling Admissions.  You may be at an advantage if you apply early. If you do apply to a binding Early Decision Program, do visit the college first to make sure it is the one for you.

–       Be careful what you post online.  With social media so prevalent, it is easy for admission officers to learn things about you on the Internet. If you don’t want information you post on the front of a national newspaper, then don’t put it online. Do post interesting things about yourself. Artists can post portfolio items and musicians use You Tube.  URL’s are not difficult to create. Even science projects are fun to put online.

–       Keep a detailed timeline calendar during your college process and pace yourself.  Summer is a great time to write your college essays and get a jump-start on your process. The Common Application, which now hosts over 400 colleges, will be launched online on August 1st. You could finalize your resume and several required essays prior to the start of school in the fall. Getting an early start assures you of completing careful and well thought out applications


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