You are going to likely fill out a ton of college applications during your junior and senior years; with so much to do, take it from us on things you should include on each one if possible.
Here are a few suggestions of good things to put on a college application, to help increase your value in admissions officers’ eyes.
High School Grades Progression
Virtually every institution will request your high school transcript, but your grade progression is a great thing to highlight on the application.
For example, if you started high school averaging with B’s and C’s and eventually worked your way up to straight A’s then you need to share that information! Use your transcript as a tool to highlight your academic progression over time. If you show admissions officers your hard work and commitment to always improve academically, they will notice and take it into consideration.
Now is the perfect time to show off every award you’ve won during high school.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s academic, athletic, extracurricular, etc. Your college application is the best place to brag about every award you’ve earned during those four years of study.
If you think about it, those awards are doing their job at this critical point in your academic career. Plus, like your grade progression, awards show admissions officials your personal progression during those years regarding what you’ve spent time and focus on.
Job experience won’t hurt on your college application.
Work a summer to earn extra cash? Keeping an after-school job to pay for bills and save for college? Make sure to put those down on the application too. Why? Because it shows that you’re able to juggle multiple priorities while keeping your grades high.
Plus, it demonstrates your sense of financial responsibility and time management skills. All of those variables will factor into college life, so show them that you’ve already been practicing during high school.
Demonstrating leadership ability at an extracurricular is more valuable than simply listing every club and sport you joined.
When it comes to extracurriculars, quality trumps sheer quantity. It is better to highlight the one or two clubs or sports that you made a significant impact upon, rather than throw down twenty, wildly different things. Why? Because it demonstrates your enthusiasm and commitment to officials who are looking for students that possess that drive.
If instead you simply list a ton of different activities over the years that you didn’t stick with, officials will mistakenly assume that you have a low attention span and doing things to simply stay busy. Show them that when you are committed to a pursuit, you do so with focus and are ready to help empower others too.
Community Service Experience
Community service experience illustrates your character, don’t forget to include it if possible.
Admissions officers look for community service experience because it is a quick sign of your personal character. More than grades or awards, showing that you’ve spent time helping others outside of your academic life lets officials know that you can bring that same enthusiasm to campus too. Include every chance you’ve had to help out because they do make a difference.
High school internships are a luxury, so if you’ve done one, don’t forget to include it.
You will have more internship opportunities both during and after college; however, it’s not impossible to score one while still in high school. If you do, then be sure to include it. First, officials will be surprised to see that you actually scored one this young, demonstrating your value and character.
Secondly, the bonus benefit is the people you worked with being able to provide you with helpful recommendations. Take care of two birds with one stone if you have an internship to share.
Sports aren’t just about winning or losing a game.
Sports showcase your commitment, time management, and focus to succeed. If you’ve participated in team sports for three to four years in high school, you’ve shown that you can handle that pressure consistently.
Handling pressure over time is a big part of college, so advisors will be happy to see the practice you’ve already done. Moreover, if you can provide help to a particular athletic program, that fact will help you also come decision time.
Awards alone don’t have to demonstrate academic achievement.
While they help, you can also show the quality of your achievements through non-award means. Have you received honors or high honors during high school? If so, then put that down!
If you’re a National Honor Society member or a part of another academic organization, that will show your acumen is already at a certain, consistent level. Moreover, if you can demonstrate going from average grades to very high or near perfect, officials will notice that growth positively.
Standardized Test Scores
This may sound redundant but don’t forget to include your standardized test scores, whether it’s the SAT, ACT, etc.
Most applications will already include space to include them, but in case they don’t then be sure to include that information somewhere. Also, if you’ve shown improvement between test dates, don’t be afraid to highlight them. Let’s say between your first SAT attempt and a second one, your overall score improves 100 to 200 points.
Definitely put that down because you’re showcasing the hard work you put in to improve, in addition to your intelligence, logic, and time management ability to score well. All of those factors are assets to show off.
High Grade Point Average
Don’t be afraid to show off a high, grade point average, this is the time to do it.
If you maintained a consistently high GPA over your high school career, that’s great. You can set and hold a high standard for yourself, which demonstrates focus and commitment.
However, if freshman year was tough but over the remaining three years you improved your GPA significantly, admissions officers will pay even more attention. They want to see your potential for growth, the more you can show, the more they’ll be interested in you.
Did you take an Honors or Advanced Placement courses? If so, include them, even if you didn’t get straight A’s.
Why? Colleges are looking for students who are ready to handle the academic rigor that defines higher education. They know that students who take these courses are already overextending themselves by handling material that they may not be 100% ready for yet.
However, they take the chance and work hard to do well in them. That’s why AP and Honors course grades are considered differently than regular high school level courses. A B grade in an AP class carries as much, if not more, value to admission officials than an A in a comparable mainstream class. That B shows them that you can already do relatively well in college-level courses right off the bat.
Ideally, over the course of high school, you’ve cultivated positive relationships with teachers.
The teachers that know you the best, both academically and personally, are the ones best qualified to provide recommendation letters. If you have teachers whose classes you scored high in, and worked with after school in an extracurricular activity, such as a sport or club, ask them first.
The caveat though is to ask them for recommendation letters as early as possible. You will then have the material you need ready to go when applying. Moreover, those teachers or counselors have enough time to craft quality letters for you, increasing your chances for selection.
Don’t underestimate the power of a quality essay.
College application essays are used by universities to learn about who you are, and why you want to attend their school. This requirement is your chance to share your story with them. Carefully consider the questions asked and take enough time to draft, revise, and edit it until you believe it reveals who you are to the best of your ability.
Showcase your personality, discuss your passions, let them know exactly what drew you to their school and what you want to accomplish there. A compelling story can definitely push you from being on the fence to ‘accepted’ in some college boards’ eyes, but you have to do the work first.
How Prep Expert Can Help You
To help minimize your college rejection experience, we have a number of options that can help you during the application and admissions process.
At Prep Expert, we are vested in helping you get into the school of your choice through both our test prep classes and, now, our admissions consulting services. In addition to our SAT prep and ACT prep options, we also have services that will help you with what to do after taking one of the tests and getting your scores back.
We can help you with crafting your admission essays, prepare you for interviews, etc. Our Admissions Director can help you with those services; to learn more about our Admissions Consulting services, don’t hesitate to contact us today for further information.
For more information and tips, check out Prep Expert.