• Kailey Moore

Ways to Make Your College Application Stand Out

Going to college is a big part of people’s lives. It's a wondrous place where people go so that they can learn and get an education in the career path of their choice. College means a lot to so many people. To some youth, its freedom from their guardians. And to the old, it's a chance for extended wisdom that they didn’t absorb in their youth. To many people, college signifies their honor, their pride, and sometimes their family heritage. Going to a certain college can give a person’s name significance, and depending on the name of the college, it can show a person’s prestige. Different colleges give different degrees of teaching, and some give special lessons that can only be given from that college. But, in the end, there are specific requirements that must be met to attend the college of your choice. And, if you want to stand-out amongst your peers and get chosen to go to your dream college, you must try to be as unique and as different as possible. In summary, things that you can put on your college resume to stand out include: unique hobbies, extracurriculars, overall GPA, SAT/ACT scores, AP and honors courses, the college essay, competitions, and experience.

Having good grades is one of the basics to making your college resume look the best it can be. While low grades may not completely diminish your chances, high grades can very much improve your chances of getting into college. According to PrepScholar, “[Y]ou would have a 20% chance of admission with the higher score as opposed to a 6% chance with the lower score.” However, just because you have a low GPA in the beginning of the year doesn’t mean you can’t get into your dream college. In fact, if your grades go up from there on out and have a sharp increase, you can point out that extreme growth on your college application! When you start planning your college application, PrepScholar recommends using college-specific websites to figure out their GPA ranges and acceptance rates. That way you can prepare and raise your grades way ahead of time. In addition, SAT and ACT scores are something that colleges commonly look at to decide if you should be allowed into their school. In fact, a lot of schools require a certain score to even apply for the school! SAT and ACT tests are a great way to prove your critical thinking skills, as well as your test-taking behavior. Before you take the SAT or ACT, make sure to look at your college’s website for the minimum score to apply. That way, you can prepare yourself accordingly so that you can get the score you need to get into your dream college. Lastly, AP and honors courses are a great way to challenge yourself, as well as learn harder content. Taking AP and honors courses is definitely a good way to stand-out against your peers who may have only taken regular courses. Administrators at colleges know that AP courses require more effort and skills, so if both you and a competitor have gotten an A in a course but yours was in an AP course, you would likely be chosen over the other candidate. While this may not always be the case, if you have lots of AP and honors courses on your resume, the administrator will know that you will likely be able to handle college courses since you’ve taken highly similar courses to those in the past. In addition, most schools add extra weight to grades in AP classes, which can help improve GPA.

Another key factor to place in your college resume is experiences. People with job experience will have a higher chance of getting into a college when compared to someone who hasn’t had any prior experience. That being said, it isn’t required to have job experience before applying to a college. On another note, unique work experiences can especially make you stand out. If you have received any certifications for the job you’ve done, that is extremely crucial to note, because certifications are usually more rare and are typically given to those who exceed the expectations and the normal. However, jobs related to your major are extremely valued as well. These show that you are very dedicated to the career field your interested in, which will make you stand out when compared to other peers who may have jobs that aren’t related to their major. Another way to gain experience is through volunteering. Volunteering can show how much you care for the community and the environment without getting paid. You can even volunteer in ways that support your potential studies. For example, if you wanted to be a veterinarian, a great way to show your dedication to that career field would be to volunteer at animal hospitals so that you can gain experience prior to going into college.

Finally, after school clubs and activities are great ways to gain experience. Clubs and activities that involve your career path are also a good way to show dedication and research abilities, which are skills that colleges look for when they choose to accept you. It is especially important if you’ve been doing them for a long time, as it can demonstrate commitment and passion to certain activities. Overall, unique experiences will make you memorable, which will give you a higher chance of being accepted to the college of your choice.

While experience and good grades are crucial things to place in your college application, the college essay that you write will have a major impact on how the admissions officer views you. The first step is to brainstorm significant moments from your life. Make sure to pick a specific topic that is meaningful and had a large impact on how you define yourself, your goals, or your interests. If you're writing about a specific incident, it should be something that actually happened and that had a large impact on how you define yourself, your goals, and/or your interests. Make sure it's specific and interesting. Don't write about a broad, universal topic that can apply to tons of other applicants. Focus on an event, issue, person, or struggle that's unique to you and your life. Make sure this event reveals something important about you, such as a personality trait you have, how you overcame some sort of challenge, or how you became interested in a field of study. It should also have an ultimately positive lean that reveals something good about you rather than something bad, controversial, or immoral. The second step is to write your essay. Channel your inner voice, get creative, and make sure you’re sufficiently answering the prompt and are abiding by all of the technical requirements. Being creative means including a thoughtful title, using realistic dialogue, and memorable imagery. “Don’t just tell us that you are empathetic; tell us about a time you volunteered at a nursing home and spent hours talking with a particular resident,” as Conger once said. The focus shouldn’t be on the amount of vocabulary or words you put into the essay but rather how much detail, time and effort was put into it. Without a good heartwarming essay, how can the school administrator ever learn about the real you? They want people at the school who are friendly and not afraid to share something important about themselves. Finally, the last step is to edit and proofread your essay several times. Make sure to correct any obvious typos or errors, such as mistakes in grammar, spelling, or punctuation. It's also helpful to give your essay to someone to read so that they can offer clear feedback on your essay and check that you've met all of the requirements. Edit your essay as needed in accordance with the comments you get.

Another aspect that can enhance your application is a letter of recommendation. A letter from an adult who’s already had lots of experience in their career can definitely help to affirm your work habits. And, a letter of recommendation from a person who’s field of study is the one that you want to go into is also a good way to prove your dedication. However, a letter of recommendation from a teacher is also a very good way to prove your in-class study behavior. If you’re asking for a letter from a teacher, make sure to choose someone whose class you got a high grade in (ideally an A) and who is familiar with your abilities, ambitions, and interests. The teachers should know you well beyond the classroom, so they can effectively tell admissions committees what makes you special and worth admitting.

Fifthly, extracurriculars and your display of hobbies can have a big impact on whether or not you’re accepted to the school of your choice. Competitions are a great way to exemplify your skills or talents in your area of interest. Listing competitions that you’ve competed in shows how much time you spend on after-school things each week. It also shows that you put lots of effort into the things that you spend your time on. Competitions that you’ve won are extremely crucial. Producing compelling research or beautiful art is a good thing to list, as well as what leadership positions you’ve been elected to. And, doing activities that defy gender norms shows your will to succeed even when others put you down. Ultimately, any extracurricular or unique hobby that you do can really boost your college application and make you look different from the rest.

Overall, college is a really unique experience. It's a time to experience freedom, joy, and learning. But to get into your dream college, there are a lot of things that must be done to achieve your goals. Thousands of students every year get denied the opportunity to go to their dream school. However, to be one of the lucky ones, you have to stand out and show your uniqueness. In summary, things that you can put on your college resume to stand out include: unique hobbies, extracurriculars, overall GPA, SAT/ACT scores, AP and honors courses, college essay, competitions, and experience. If you include all of these and try your hardest at school, your dream school will eventually become your current one.