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How to Make an Impressive College Application

African guy sitting at table reading college acceptance letter with good news
Written by CB Community

Considering the stiff competition and rigid criteria, getting into the college of your dreams can be tough. With a huge number of applicants vying for only a few spots, the urgency for an application to stand out is even more pressing today. The U.S. and Canada remain top choices for many students (especially international students), so you can bet you’ll competing with a lot more people than you might have thought.

Whether you are a graduating high school student or a parent of one, this article is for you! For this write-up, we’re going to share the best strategies to increase your chances for the colleges you’re considering.

Begin college application early

Applying to colleges demands a lot of concentration and may take a sizable amount of time. Every application may differ depending on the institution you apply for, but requirements such as written essays, gathered recommendations, and other necessary paperwork are mostly the same. To champion this part of the process, dedicate the time necessary for this portion. Understand that it will take some time and it will be your job to adjust.

Compile your checklists at least one year before you intend to apply and start gathering important information ahead of time. For best results, come up with a strategy and list as many feasible schools and universities as possible. While this may sound like preparation for failure, this is really just expanding the possibility of more acceptances and an even wider array of choices when the time comes for you to actually decide to select your path.

Make your passion known

Considering how many things in this world can easily drain us, passion will be the fuel that’s visible to hiring managers and college selection panels. Essays are a perfect way for you to extensively and eloquently articulate what it is you excel in the most and what you truly love. Sure, interviews help showcase your personality, but it is through essays that will help highlight the clarity of your thought patterns.

College has a thing for passionate students. That being the case, allow it to be evident in your writing style, portfolio, and other deliverable materials. Make the college you’re applying for understanding how your passions are aligned with whatever program it is you’re considering. Don’t spare them from what you intend to do after graduating from college, as well. This can often help solidify your application, granting them a clearer picture of the vision you have for yourself and other personalized learning opportunities they can integrate into their syllabus when possible.

Contact the college directly for questions

With Google searches being king on the internet, information is obviously at our fingertips we need questions answered. However, when it comes to issues that involve specific and particular information, don’t hesitate to call the college or colleges you’re considering. Forums are great, but unless the university directly answers your queries, only then will you be 100% sure.

Reaching out to the college you’re considering also gives a solid review of your commitment and interest. Canadian and American universities and colleges are always on the lookout for determined and inquisitive students. Never be afraid to speak to any members of faculty or university officers. Visit their website and email them when you can!

Write your personal statement with zeal

Writing a fired-up application essay easily spells out desire, perseverance, and grit. For your college application to reach as many phases and stages as possible, you’ll want your personal essay to be clear, creative and concise. Your writing is one of the best avenues to show the college what you’re made of and what you can become with their help. Mention the careers you’re considering after college and talk about how their admission of you is integral in getting to where you want to be.

Impress college admission officers with what you know about the program you’re eyeing by talking about how it’s going to benefit you tenfold. Highlight what you expect from their programs and don’t shy away from talking about what you’ve already accomplished on your own. Let them know that if you are granted admission, access to the school will sound like an investment, not just for you, but also for them.

Represent YOU in the best way that you can

Many applicants fall into the trap of thinking they have to be someone else to impress colleges. Now, you don’t have to watch Hallmark and Disney movies to remember that this isn’t how you get people to like you. If you want universities and colleges to grant you admission, then it’s only right for you to be as organic as possible.

Present yourself as positively as you can, but don’t sugarcoat achievements. While it may seem like it to a degree, colleges aren’t looking for superheroes. They’re looking for moldable people with a good grasp of how their school’s programs come into play. Don’t imitate other people and fake a portfolio. If you’re not as active in extracurricular activities in school as you could’ve been, research your college’s clubs and groups and talk about how you plan to sign up in one of a few of them if you’re given a chance to enroll. Include specific details of your interests and what other things you can dive right into soon.

When necessary, talk about personal experiences and encounters and highlight how these have shaped you to the person you are today. People love honesty and a good heart-warming story.

Be diligent with deadlines

This really isn’t a secret, but you should know when to submit what is crucial. Getting organized and keeping up with deadlines can be challenging and difficult if you’re not disciplined and have a vague grasp of time. Google calendar is effective, but if it helps you better, physically write down integral dates on a calendar pinned to the wall.

Good luck!

For more great college tips, check out the other awesome blogs on College Basics.

About the author

CB Community

Passionate members of the College Basics community that include students, essay writers, consultants and beyond. Please note, while community content has passed our editorial guidelines, we do not endorse any product or service contained in these articles which may also include links for which College Basics is compensated.