Colleges receive thousands of applications every year from students with excellent credentials. How can your senior differentiate themselves from other applicants? Keep reading.
Essays do matter.
The essay should paint a picture for the admission team to find out more about the student than has been revealed in other parts of the application. The essay is the student’s opportunity to share what he/she wants the college to know about them. The essay should reflect what is important to them, why, and how they will contribute to the college community. The essay is the place where the student invites the admissions office to like them and see how they will fit into the college’s campus.
Extracurriculars are a great way to show off.
Help your teen find extracurricular activities they have an authentic interest in. Sports, clubs, and volunteer organizations all offer opportunities to exhibit skills and character. Encourage your teen to take on new roles within these organizations. Although leadership roles are favorable on a transcript, these roles aren’t always widely available, and not all kids are comfortable in leadership roles. Equally important is the ability to take the initiative. A good example of this would be a student that improves processes for packing or delivery at a food bank where they routinely volunteer.
Colleges like to see candidates that are challenging themselves.
It is well known that Advanced Placement (AP), dual enrollment, and International Baccalaureate (IB) are important when applying to competitive schools, and there is a good reason for this. These classes indicate that your teen is ready for college-level work and also teaches students how to think critically, problem solve and write better. There can be a downside to taking an exorbitant number of accelerated courses. Burnout can occur and the overall GPA can suffer if your teen is overwhelmed. Also, an overly demanding workload can take away from other things that make an interesting student. Encourage your teen to take these courses but consider quality over quantity.
Realistically, colleges still want to see a solid GPA and standardized tests score (although many are test optional this year. However, be mindful that every college is different in what they are seeking in candidates. Have your teen research the schools and find out what they like in a candidate. A small Christian college and private school will probably have different sets of criteria than a large state school when evaluating applicants. And, once again, remember, stay optimistic! These colleges want your teens, and they will find the right fit!