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