3 Tips for Standing Out During the College Application Process

Thursday, August 3, 2023

The Common Application opened August 1, and millions of students across the globe will apply to college via the Common App this year. With so many students applying to college every year, most applicants have the same question on their minds: what can I do to increase my chances of standing out?

While there is no secret formula for gaining admission to your top-choice colleges, there are several tips applicants should keep in mind to ensure they present themselves in the best light possible. Keep reading to learn more about what students can do to make sure admissions officers remember them for all of the right reasons. 

Be “Pointy”

It’s a myth that colleges want mostly well-rounded students. Colleges certainly want students to have a well-rounded education in high school and are looking for students who have challenged themselves in rigorous classes across five core areas: English, Math, Science, Social Science, and a Foreign Language. 

But what admissions officers are also doing is building a well-rounded class made up of specialists, or “pointy” kids. This means students have a defined interest like engineering, business, or writing and that they have spent time in high school becoming well-versed in that interest through high school courses, activities, summer experiences, and independent projects that directly relate to those defined interests. 

Introduce Yourself

This has nothing to do with the application itself, but a lot to do with the admissions process. Every applicant has an assigned admissions officer. Typically that admissions officer is dedicated to that applicant’s region and will be the first to read and evaluate their application. Find out who the reader is for your area and reach out to them over email! Establish a line of communication with them to get answers to any pressing questions and let them know you’re applying this fall. 

If they come to your area for a college fair or a school visit, try to attend and if they tell you about virtual sessions or programs their college is offering – sign up. When your application comes across their desk, they may remember you. While it won’t guarantee that you’ll get in, it will signal to them that you’re really serious and could have a positive impact on your demonstrated interest. But with everything, remember balance as you don’t want to become overbearing.

Take Some Risks

Taking some small risks in the admissions process can pay off. For example, if you’re a slam poet interested in creative writing, submit some of your work or even a video of a reading. A lot of times things like that are not a required part of your application, but many schools give students the option to submit additional materials. 

Don’t love the standard essay format? Play around with how you write your personal statement. Don’t be afraid to get creative if that’s who you are. Now if taking risks with essays and extra submissions is not your thing — that’s also okay. You want to be yourself when you apply. There are many ways to take risks while applying strategies that can help you stand out. 

The college application process is multi-faceted and comprehensive, so it’s important for students to stay on top of every component of their admissions journey. If you are preparing to submit applications and searching for additional insights on standing out from the crowd, our team of former admissions officers can help you put your best foot forward.


Related Topics

12th Grade
Sign Up for the IvyWise Newsletter
 简体中文 »
close wechat qr code