Three Key Tips for Applications

Finesse the Common Application -  The personal essay and the supplemental essays demonstrate an applicant’s writing style and aptitude.  Yet, the way students phrase their activities, employment, and community service on the Common Application is also important.  To make these sections stand out, use strong ‘action’ verbs (created, managed, produced, organized) and include numbers (how many articles written? meetings led? tournaments captained? shifts worked?).  Wherever possible, emphasize leadership and motivation.

Additional Information Section – Many students will upload a more complete resume on this page of the common app. Alternately, if there is something in the student’s record that needs to be explained, i.e. a semester of weak grades; a medical leave; a disciplinary action; this is the appropriate section to write a brief essay explaining the circumstances.

Campus Visits - Visiting, and re-visiting campuses, can make a huge difference because it "demonstrates interest" in a school and doing so has become increasingly significant.  More importantly, students can feel a college vibe if they spend time with current students, and really look around and soak in the atmosphere.

Overnight  visits can be invaluable because they allow the prospective student a 24-hour experience of being a student at that college. Many colleges arrange overnight visits through the admissions office so it’s worth a phone call.  Schools that do not offer overnights typically offer another type of visit opportunity such as “lunch with a student,” or “sit in on a class.”  Such opportunities are also worthwhile and more importantly, show interest in the college.

With the tremendous emphasis currently placed on “demonstrated interest,” any engagement with the college is strongly recommended. Furthermore, the more an applicant knows about a school, the better equipped he/she is to write an impressive supplemental essay.  Many colleges ask the applicant why he/she wants to attend that school.  Effective essays provide personal details and impressions that show that the applicant has a good understanding of what is unique to that campus.

Digital Persona -  As if students don’t have enough hoops to jump through, now they must also be conscious of their digital persona. For years, we have been telling students to clean up their Facebook pages but today’s social media has expanded their online presence exponentially. And as Big Brother-esque as it may sound, admissions offices are watching.

So how can students use social media to boost, rather than hinder, their college applications?Online features that present a positive impression are:

An appealing Twitter page that suggests cultural engagement and intellectual curiosity

·       Mature personal blog posts

·       News articles about a student’s academic or athletic accomplishments

·       Mentions of volunteer work on the organization’s website and social media

·       Facebook Groups and Facebook Likes