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What Else Should I Include in my College Application?

The big personal statement, the supplemental essays. These are major components of your college application process, but that doesn’t mean they are the only aspects admission officers consider.

There are so many other parts of the application that can help you stand out, so be sure to utilize all of them! Below are a list of aspects you should take full of advantage of:

1) List of Extracurriculars

Due to the small amount of space given for extracurriculars, it is crucial to maintain concision while providing a detailed overview of them. You want to shed the best light on all your activities, and can do so with these three aspects:

  • Use Strong Verbs (add variety!)

  • Ex. lead, mentor, organize, host, publicize, administer

  • Use present tense if you’re still engaged in the activity

  • Include Tangibles

  • How much money did you raise? How many people did you help?

  • The more measurable, the more impressive

  • Demonstrate Skills & Values

  • What values/skills did you develop? Show leadership skills – “I led this”.

*Things to watch out for are being too vague, using way too fancy verbs, and/or stretching the truth.

2) Letters of Recommendation

The recommendation adds insight into what makes you a distinct and wonderful student by highlighting your key characteristics and traits as a student/person through a teacher’s observations. The work is pretty much out of your hands, however, the difficulty comes in with choosing who should write it. Here are aspects to consider:

  • Choose a teacher you feel closest to

  • If you don’t feel close to any, that’s okay! Pick a teacher you know would write a positive, detailed recommendation about you.

  • Think about who pops into your mind first – that usually indicates that they are the one to ask.

  • Try to pick a teacher from core subjects

  • English, Math, Science, and/or History teachers are what colleges usually want to see and it is best to have the subject line up with your intended major.

  • Decide on a teacher who you performed well in their class or experienced major growth

  • Pick a recent teacher!

  • Junior year teachers are most common, since they have known you the most recently.

3) Optional Recommendation Letter

This component often gets overlooked, however it can provide a better insight into who you are as a person. Strong optional recommendation letters are written by an individual who you have drawn a closer connection to than your teachers who write the main ones. For instance, your coach, club advisor, mentor, employer, or spiritual leader could write this letter. By providing a different angle and unique perspective on your life, the letter sheds light on your personality, ambitions, and goals, and justifies the other aspects of your application.

*But be wary, if you don’t think it would add much value to your application, or don’t have someone in mind, then DO NOT add one. Sometimes less is more, and application officers will look down upon it if it provides unsolicited material.

4) Optional Resume

There isn’t much room to provide detailed insight on your extracurricular activities and the optional resume is a great place to do so if you feel the need to explain more. The resume can provide detailed information on your extracurricular activities to give them the recognition they deserve! You can even add activities or achievements you were unable to include on the application.

*Use caution! You DO NOT want to add this if you plan on writing the same descriptions as seen in your main application.

5) Optional Interview

The interview process is nerve-wracking, but can add a huge boost to your application. This one be sure not to miss if a school offers it! Interviews allow application officers to get a better understanding of your personality, achievements, and goals, and can make you stand out in the process.

*Be sure to come prepared for the interview by practicing answers to basic behavioral questions, bringing questions to ask the interviewer, and dressing presentable.

6) Great Resources

Write Your Way In by Rachel Toor:

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