5 Ways To Ace Your College Apps

It’s a well-known fact that top-tier universities could fill their halls with students who have perfect SAT scores, or 4.0 GPAs. But they choose not to. Most top-tier schools emphasize characteristics beyond just academic perfection. Although they qualify students by academic excellence, university admissions decisions are often based on other factors of your application. Here are five ways to make your application stand out:


    1. Write a killer essay! This is one of two things that works to counterbalance a lower SAT score. Essays are also deciding factors for “lucky ticket” schools. The admission officer hopes to know you better through your essay. They want to learn something about you that was not covered in your application, get the sense of a real person behind the application file.
    2. Emphasize culture. As an international student you have one advantage and one disadvantage over American students. Your advantage is that you come from a different culture and you can always write about something unique to your country, like an unusual food or ceremony. Your disadvantage is that most countries do not teach students to write very openly about their feelings, emotions or reflections in a way Americans do, which is an obstacle you must overcome.
    3. Don’t try to emulate. So before you start, read ten or twenty “Best College Essays” written by international students. Make sure you don’t copy them; but use them only to understand the concept.  Remember admission officers read hundreds of essays each day and want to be entertained by your stand-out essay.
    4. Provide solid recommendation letters. This is the second most important supplement of your application, after your essay. Choose the teacher who’s known you for a long time, someone who you really bonded with and who will provide a real and personal perspective. If one recommendation comes from a teacher, and you also happen to be an excellent swimmer, the second can come from your coach. It’s important to have someone who knows you outside of academics. Also, make sure not to overdo it! Providing more than three letters makes your application too large and suggests that you have low self-confidence.
    5. Be thoughtful when listing your activities. Your application should have an easy narrative. List only the extracurricular activities you are really passionate about and can prove a significant commitment to. If you did not enjoy community service and only did it once your second year of high school, it is not worth mentioning. But if you are passionate about something, and have dedicated a good amount of time to it, you should include it foremost. Enthusiasm and amount of time are the two things you should prioritize in choosing which to list.



Your application should work, above all, to display yourself as a whole person, from interests to academics to personal attributes. If you make sure the supplemental portions of your application shine, your chances of getting accepted to your dream school increase exponentially.

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