College admissions are on the rise. The National Association for College Admissions Counseling reports the number of college applications has grown by at least 7% in the last few years. They also report colleges are accepting two-thirds of first-time freshman applicants.
This means you have a lot of competition. You need to find ways to stand out from the competition during the application process.
Below are some key tips you can start using today to have a successful college application.
Completing deadlines set by the college is a major advantage. In fact, missing a deadline can eliminate you from the process. Before you begin applying, create a calendar, marking all the deadlines for each step of the application. Do this for every college to which you are applying. Hang the calendar in a place you will see it each day and use it as a reminder to stay on track.
- Be Honest
Never lie on your application. If you are lacking in an area, don’t lie about it. Instead, do something to improve that area between now and the time the application is due. Or, explain to the admissions department how you plan to improve in those areas. Being honest about your faults as well as your successes shows them you can distinguish between the two and that you have a plan to make things better.
- Show Creativity
You can answer a question on an application in a bland, robotic, expected way. Or, you can get creative. Choose your wording wisely. Find ways to show your enthusiasm through your writing. Create a video that supplements your essay. Being creative with your college application also means being appropriate and not offensive. Find ways to shine and show your personality in your college application.
- Ace the Essay
You can show college admissions staff that you can write clearly and at a college level in your essay. What you write can tell them your maturity level, your goals, dreams, and eagerness to attend their school. Double and triple check your grammar and spelling. Write from the heart but also show you can put together a succinct paper.
- Great Recommendations
Choosing people to write recommendation letters to support you is very important. Choosing the right people can get you noticed. The right people are a group who can provide evidence that you are the right choice. Teachers, employers, camp counselors, summer program leaders, and staff for whom you volunteered are a few examples. If you know professors, alumni, donors or staff members working for the college, ask them to help. A good word can influence decision makers.
- Make a Checklist
Most college applications provide a checklist as a guide. This helps you double check that you have all the documents and materials requested by the college. You can go one step further and create your own checklist that includes any extra resources you provide the college, like a video essay, photos, extra reference letters, or samples of your work.
- Clean Up Your Social Media
Colleges are reviewing the social media sites of their applicants. What they see on social media can verify what you have written in your application. Or, it can tell an opposing story. When posting anything online, ask yourself if the admissions team would approve of the post. If not, delete the post.
- Get to Know the Campus
You can impress the admissions team in your application by knowing what you love about the campus. You can learn what you love by visiting the campus and meeting leaders long before you graduate high school. Keep track of the positive interactions you had on campus and report those in your application. This will show application reviewers that you are already invested in their college.
- Remember the Extracurriculars
Colleges are interested in accepting new students who have a well-rounded personal and academic lifestyle. It’s great if you had the highest grades in your class. It’s even better if you had good grades but also played a sport or a musical instrument or participated in a club. Don’t forget to include extracurricular activities you did outside of school too, like being a volunteer, running marathons, or even babysitting. Show you have strengths in multiple areas of your life.
- Test and Retest
All colleges require passing an entrance exam. Some require the ACT, while others prefer the SAT. Start early, as a freshman or sophomore in high school, practicing for these exams. Take them as soon as you can and take them often. Your highest score is the one that matters. If you wait until the last minute, you may only be able to take the test once or twice.
- Complete the Application
When completing your admissions application, make sure you answer every question. If you don’t know how to answer a question, ask for help from a parent, teacher or peer. Leaving questions unanswered could signal the admissions team that you don’t care enough to finish it, or that you don’t follow instructions well. Answering all questions makes you look organized and responsible.
After sending in your college application, you will need to plan a follow-up contact with the admissions office. Give them a week to receive your application, then call or email them to verify they received your application materials. This is also a good time to ask them if there is further information needed, and to thank them for their time and consideration.
This follow-up call gives you another opportunity to shine and to give you an edge over your competition.
- Think Outside the Box
Think outside the box when building up your list of positive qualities and get an edge over other applicants. Take college classes while still in high school, online or in-person, attend a lecture on campus in the area you plan to study, join a college activities group, or attend on-campus events.
Find ways to show them why you are the right choice.
With these tips in mind you’re ready to get started on your applications for college. If you would like to learn more or apply to be a student at any of our SBBCollege campuses or online, please contact us or fill out our application information form.