My child is a great student. He is a top debater. He is an athlete. He has a part-time job. He is the President of Student Council. Isn’t this enough? Will my child’s application be strong enough for highly selective colleges?
Unfortunately, there is no easy and/or complete answer to this question.
In my ten years as a counselor, I have met with countless admissions directors, from colleges and universities across the country. “How do you differentiate between similarly perfect students?” I ask, in the hopes of getting a substantive answer. Here is what I have learned:
Walk the walk. If you say you want to be an engineer, prove it. Make sure your high school academic history includes several high level science and math courses. Read engineering newsletters, blogs, books, magazines and published research. Watch Ted Talks, seek out events in your area to increase your knowledge in your favored engineering discipline. In essence, take your education into your own hands. What can you learn outside the classroom?
Along these same lines, pad your resume with certificates and/or coursework from online educational platforms such as Coursera or Edx. Take an online course in Machine Learning taught by Stanford, Data Science taught by Johns Hopkins, The Science of Well-Being taught by Yale, or Quantum Cryptography taught by Caltech.
Dig deep. Become an engaging storyteller. Your college essays MUST stand out. In order to do that successfully, you should look at the essay as a chance to tell your story. Storytelling sounds, and is, more manageable than feeling the pressure of crafting the perfect essay - no matter how small. Remember, it’s the minutia in your life that showcases your quirks and personality in the most engaging way, not the larger than life stuff (I want to help people, community service is my passion, I have won top debate awards… cliché…cliché…cliché). As your 4th grade teacher told you, show me don’t tell me.
If you are an artist, a writer, a dancer, a musician, or have any special talent, document it. Create a website. A blog. Include a link directing your evaluators to view your talents. They might not have time to look, but it is always a good idea to showcase your creativity.
To delve further into these and other ideas, contact Ascent College Advising at email@example.com today!