6 minute read
With so much emphasis placed on standardized test scores, some students may feel that college admission counselors are reducing them to just a number. Thankfully, that’s not the case! It’s a growing trend that colleges are looking at students as unique, capable young adults with storied experiences, rather than just test scores between 1 and 36 or 400 and 1600 (yep, the low end of the SAT score range isn’t zero).
- GPA and Transcript
In speaking with students who are applying for college, one thing has become clear: few students know exactly how to fully describe how impressive they really are. Since there are few things worse than the “Aw, man!” feeling of remembering something that should have been included on an application, we’ve created the following list of achievements and activities to make sure to include when applying. (But only if they’re true, of course! You don’t want to find yourself in the middle of another Varsity Blues scandal.)
College admissions departments know that not everyone is a great test-taker, which is why they also look at students’ GPAs and transcripts. A GPA shows the result of long-term effort, studying, and assignments without restrictive time limits. And a high school transcript helps fill in the context of the GPA by showing difficult classes attempted, a broad range of knowledge gained, and possibly off-campus academic commitments.
2. School-Related Extracurriculars
Modern students are incredibly involved – whether it’s participating in a school play, running track, helping with a project to build a sustainable garden on school grounds, volunteering to read with elementary schoolers who need a little 1-on-1 help, or the many other opportunities that high schools offer. It takes maturity and a good sense of time management to balance all of these different and competing activities.
3. Recommendations from Teachers or Other Community Leaders
It’s common for students to include letters of recommendation from teachers or people in their community (a religious leader, mentor, employer, etc.) as a part of their college applications. Don’t be afraid to talk to the person in advance and mention the focus of the supplemental essays, so that the letter of recommendation can support the same values and ideals.
4. Work Experience, Internships, and Volunteering
It’s a major feat to go to school all day and then transition to a job. Colleges want to hear about how a balance of responsibilities will make a student successful at their schools. Mentioning a part-time job that’s making college a financial possibility, a long-standing volunteer position that’s close to your heart, or an internship that’s a stepping stone for a future career is a great addition to an application.
5. Leadership Roles
Just as leaders come in all shapes and sizes, leadership roles do too, and sometimes students have trouble identifying the roles that they fill. If your position requires that you set a good example, help problem solve, and stay committed to a cause, you might just be a leader!
6. Supplemental Essays
Even colleges that use the Common Application usually have additional (required or optional) supplemental essays as part of their application, which students can use to help admissions counselors learn more about them as interesting, resilient individuals. Remember that admissions counselors read an enormous amount of these essays, so think about how an essay can stand out as different and striking.
7. Demonstrated Interest
This takes a little more effort than just buying a college sweatshirt, but also doesn’t involve camping out in front of the admissions office and handing out copies of your transcript. Some great ways to show interest include opening and clicking through emails from a college (they can track that!), making an appointment with an admissions counselor on your college visit, participating in an alumni interview, or attending an event or webinar run by the school. These things let the admissions counselor know that you’re serious about attending.
College admissions counselors will look at all aspects of a student’s background and experience, so make as many parts as possible shine! If your SAT and ACT scores need a boost, let our expert teachers help guide your test-taking strategy. Sign up today for a course with The Answer Class at a school near you. In our affordable courses, students learn everything they need to know about the SAT or ACT in a low-stress environment that prompts confidence.