Getting Into Your Dream School

Posted on July 20, 2009 | Filed in Admissions

Making a Compelling Application When your application arrives at your favorite college, the officers are not deciding whether to accept or reject you, but rather your application. Therefore, you need to make your application reflect your abilities, personality, background, interests, and past performance. Don’t Hesitate – Starting Early Pays Off Don’t wait until senior year to download the applications you need.  Ideally, you will begin familiarizing yourself with your college applications and their requirements during the spring of your junior year.  You will need time to carefully gather the necessary information and compile lists of activities and honors.  If you can begin writing your essays over the summer, you will save plenty of time; just make sure to ask the admissions offices whether or not they plan on changing the essays in the fall.   Submitting your application as early as possible is always beneficial.  Close to the deadline date, admissions officers must read close to 100 applications a day, but early in the season, they read only a handful a day.  If the admissions officer has more time to consider your application in a thoughtful way, your chances are greatly improved.  Also, an early submission suggests that you are quite serious about your interest in the school, even when you do not select Early Action or another similar option. Extracurricular Activities and Your Application You cannot fool college admissions officers by presenting an extremely long list of extracurricular activities in your application.  While it is true that colleges want to make sure that you are doing something worthwhile in your spare time, it is not necessary to be a member of 20 different clubs, sports, or organizations.  However, if you spend 20 hours a week at one particular activity, and you have become the mainstay of that organization, that’s impressive.  Extracurricular activity lists should demonstrate:
  1. Dedication and Loyalty
  2. Well-Roundedness
  3. Social Awareness and Sophistication
  4. Leadership Capacity
First Jobs and Student Resumes As a high school student, it is not expected that you will have a lengthy resume.  However, having a job in high school can impress admissions officers.  It is a good idea include the number of hours per week you normally work at your job, and any leadership positions that you’ve held.  Your job doesn’t need to be unusual, but your dedication is what matters.  Some schools permit additional recommendation letters from job supervisors, and a glowing report of your maturity, work ethic, and problem-solving skills can be a real boon. Look after your applications! If you apply online, always save a copy of your essays on your hard drive, and also a backup copy on CD or other removable drive.  Take your time, and do your best to present yourself in the best light possible.
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