It’s time for you to apply to college … along with 17 million other high school students. Here are 10 qualifications that can help you stand out.
1. A transcript that includes rigorous courses
AP, International Baccalaureate and honors courses or classes you can take at a community or local college for dual credit while still in high school count big with admissions reps.
2. Grades that show academic growth
When colleges see that your high school grades are consistent or improving, they will be confident you’ll be successful in college.
3. Solid scores on standardized tests
The scores you receive on your SAT or ACT should be consistent with your high school performance.
4. Passionate involvement in extracurriculars
A University of Southern California admissions officer says USC is determined to attract the most diverse students to their campus. In this case, “diversity” means well-rounded students interested in many subjects.
5. Participation in community service
It’s easy to sleep in on a Saturday morning. So if you’re involved in your community instead, it’s vital you put those activities down in order of importance and explain what being involved did for you as a person. Doing so shows integrity and motivation to make a difference.
6. Employment, volunteering and a good work ethic
Colleges look at employment records as a historical view of how you follow through and get along with authority. Ask for a recommendation from a boss who would describe you as dependable, hard working and as a team player.
7. An honest, mature essay demonstrating your aspirations
One admissions officer says there is “so much polishing that goes into the process of college applications that sometimes the student loses her voice.” Talk to the admissions committee in your college application. Describe your passions, beliefs and aspirations.
8. Unique letters of recommendation
Your favorite teachers, counselors, coaches and employers can compose letters of recommendation that describe you perfectly. When you begin requesting recommendations, remind your teachers of classroom discussions or standout projects and ask them to describe your involvement in the letter.
The admissions director at the University of Oregon says the college application process itself is an education. It’s a lesson in planning and scheduling. Ask your parents to push you when a deadline nears.
10. A diverse student
List your interests in the application so the reader recognizes your desire to learn. Most college admissions staff say they are interested in the “well-rounded student,” but they also want students to be interested in a wide range of subjects.
A college campus is more than a place for the smart kids. It’s a place where smart kids meet interesting kids, which makes for a fascinating experience. So as you compile your résumé, include the honors and awards you’ve received plus anything else that makes you stand out.
Linda Metcalf, Ph.D., is a certified school guidance counselor and author of How to Say It To Get Into the College of Your Choice. Copyright © 2007 Prentice Hall Press. Reproduced with permission. Contact her at email@example.com.