Summer is time for family, friends, vacations, and a break from your usual routine. But for rising seniors, it is also the time to work on your applications. Our college counselors are busy running college application boot camps and helping our students complete their applications carefully. But here are some of our best pieces of advice for putting your best foot forward in your applications!
- Be strategic with the Activities Section:
- The Common Application and other college application platforms ask you to record information about your extracurriculars in a very specific format. One of the challenging things about that format is that it means you have to fit a thorough description of what your activities entail in a very limited amount of space. As you work on the activities section, remember that the person reading your application will be familiar with what most high school activities entail, but they won’t know what YOU contributed to your particular activity. So instead of describing your activity by saying something like “played varsity basketball; attended practices and played in games,” you could make your application more compelling by saying something like, “4-year varsity letter winner; mentored younger players and assisted coaches with training plans and practices.” It may sound silly, but we usually recommend spending as much time on the activities section as you would on an essay-it’s that important, even if its word limits are smaller!
- Take your time with the supplement essays
- A college’s supplement essay is the most important way the college can assess your fit with that school. For example, if a college asks you about a time that you interacted with someone different from you, you can infer that the college values diversity, discussion, and learning from those around you. While supplement essays can seem like an “add-on,” they are one of the most crucial ways you can communicate your fit a the school, so don’t overlook them. The colleges won’t be overlooking them, either!
- Use the Additional Information Section
- We find that many students have parts of their applications that warrant more explanation than the application itself allows. For example, if you started your own business or organization, you may have MUCH more to say about that venture than fits in the 150 characters you are permitted in the activities section. So how can you convey this information to your colleges? The answer is often the “Additional Information” section. Located at the very end of the Common App, the additional information section is optional, but provides up to 500 words you can use to describe anything you think might be helpful to understanding your application–that you couldn’t take four years of both band and French because they conflicted in your senior year schedule, for example. Or that your grades sophomore year were a poor reflection of your ability because you got Mono and got really behind on project. Or that a march you helped organized was covered by a local newspaper, and here’s a link where the college could learn more.
Best of luck as you navigate these applications! And as always, if we can help, please call us and schedule a consultation!