Three Tips to Getting your College Application Noticed

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As though your high school student didn’t have enough pressure to get a great grade point average, they also have to volunteer and get glowing recommendations from influential educators in order to get into a good college. With college applications becoming more competitive with each passing year, some students are coming up with creative ways to get their colleges of choice to notice them.

In his book “The New Rules of College Admissions,” Scott Ham, the former Admissions Dean of Northwestern University explains that gimmicks that seem clever to high school graduates are often just a pain to deal with and don’t help in any way. He has had students turn their college applications into jigsaw puzzles, write them backwards and send them in with a mirror and every year he gets some applications with a show (one foot in the door) or a balloon (so it will rise to the top). Here are some of his best tips for success with college applications.

Just be yourself

The best way to not be looked over is to be memorable and the only way to do that is to foster a personal connection with the admissions officer. While parents can offer advice about content, and teachers and tutors can help polish the grammar and vocabulary, the application must be written by the student.

When the application letter is sincere, from the heart and shows the real personality of the student, there is a far better chance of forging a real connection and a memorable introduction. As in all things, be yourself, be sincere and don’t try to write what you think they want to hear.

Show your stuff

Don’t send along a resume; these are almost always disregarded. Instead, showcase your talents effectively within the reasonable limits of the application form. Each university is looking for students who are talented and who will add to the eclectic tapestry of campus life.

If you can play a musical instrument, add a video of a recent performance or if you are an accomplished artist, include a slide show of your work. Whatever your unique talents, include them in your application even if they don’t pertain to the course you are going to study.

Show that you are serious

When the recruiting officer comes to you school, be sure to make contact with them and ask them to fill out an information card. Visit the campus and fill out an information card to show that you were there and ask for an interview while you are at it. Colleges want to be sure that they are your first choice when going through the application process, so show your commitment by making contact as often as possible.

When it comes to college applications, remember that your poor admissions officer has thousands to get through. Make their lives easier by sticking to the format and really trying to show them who you are, what you are passionate about and (above all else) be sincere.

Pic by the Gates Foundation
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