Michele Hernandez, an Ed.D and a former Assistant Director of Admissions at Dartmouth, is well-known for her sound advice about getting into competitive colleges. Her advice comes from years of working in admissions and she believes what she learned about how to get into a selective college should be information for everyone. In her book Acing the College Application: How to Maximize your Chances for Admission to the College of your Choice, Hernandez covers a wide variety of topics in an easy-to-read way that offers terrific tips for applying to college. This book tells all about college applications. It covers the activity sheet, essay writing, what to send and what not to send, as well as types of recommendations and interviewing tips.
Hernandez generally advises students to take all opportunities to include extra personal information in their applications, filling out short essays and supplemental essays. She especially recommends that you write an additional essay, asked for our not, which addresses your subject interest. This may be a subject in the conventional sense of a course (math, English, Spanish) or it may be a subject that arises from an activity or hobby (politics, astronomy). She gives interesting advice about how you can narrow that interest for a short essay and how to include details. This essay works best when it is supported by other materials in your application which show you have pursued your interest, gained recognitions or awards, done special projects, been involved in community activities, etc. Hernandez explains this additional essay also plays to your academic talents and can be adapted to the often-seen essay prompt: Why do you want to go to college X?”
Another of Hernandez’s books A is for Admission is an equally good resource for creating a top college application. In this book Hernandez lets you into the heads of college admission personnel. She helps you understand what they are thinking. Hernandez reveals how student applicants’ data is entered to rank the applicant. What she points out is that on a scale of 9 (best) to 1(least interesting) a student who offers many attributes may only rank average (5) at selective colleges. Because of the applicant pool, even though you may be a captain of 2 or 3 teams, other applicants may have the same bona fides so you need to show you have national or international recognition. The same goes for course work and academic grades. To stand out on this ranking scale you need more than the typical high school accolades. You need to go beyond the classroom and the school. You need to show a passion for a subject by doing research during the summer or by showing out-of-class initiative and passion for academics, beyond earning terrific grades.
A is for Admission also offers the admissions people’s perspectives on teacher recommendations and on student interviews. Knowing what they are looking for is half the battle. Hernandez provides sample cases and takes each through the admission evaluation process, and she suggests tips for the applicant who may rank 5 to get his or her application in shape before sending it out to the most selective schools.
In addition, CollegeBasics now has a new e-book The Basics for Writing College Application Essays: Simple How-to Steps for Writing All College Essays from the Personal Statement to the Short Activity Essay that outlines every aspect of writing the college application essay. This book explains how to write different kinds of application essays from the short activity essay to the personal statement to scholarship essays and more and offers samples of the different types of essays required and essay edits. This book can really help you!