Improve your College Application- the Thin Line Between Acceptance and Denial

How do you improve your college application and manage the thin line between acceptance an denial? Everybody knows that a student needs stellar grades and SAT/ACT scores to get accepted to an Ivy League School. Yet Harvard only accepts 5% of applicants each year, many who excel in all academic areas.  Admissions counselors read hundreds, if not thousands, of applications each year-sometimes spending only 10 minutes on any given application. Therefore, for acceptance to the best colleges, you must find a way to STAND OUT among the crowd.

Here are three specific ways you can improve your College Application:

  1. Display a Specific Passion and be a Leader

    The college world is changing. It’s no longer acceptable to simply attend college and only learn inside the classroom. Schools want students that will enrich their culture through clubs and organizations. They’re actively looking at the activities section of the Common Application to see how you spend your free time. Remember to include as much information as possible about your club, sport, community service, job or internship and don’t be shy to attach an auxiliary document further explaining your responsibilities. Colleges are looking for a variety of activities, but also want to see consistent commitment to a group throughout your high school years. Take on a leadership position (captain, editor, president) and you won’t regret it. Colleges want leaders who will continue to innovate once they arrive to campus. Look to get involved in your school and community beginning in 9th grade and your application will certainly get a needed boost.

Check out how Elisha got a Full Scholarship to Harvard, thanks to his activity outside of the classroom

  1. Develop Great Mentors

    Most colleges require AT LEAST two recommendation letters and many encourage you to submit three. One recommendation must come from your school/college counselor and the others from a mentor (teacher, coach, boss, etc.) These letters are extremely important, because they bring your application to life- remember that the person reading your application knows almost nothing about you. Therefore, it’s crucial to have mentors that can write letters characterizing your talents completely and accurately. Request letters of recommendation before or right at the beginning of your senior year before teachers are busy with work and include at least one recommendation from a non-teacher.

See examples of some great recommendation letters

  1. Write a Knockout Essay

    Who says that college essay writing can’t be fun? This is your best chance to advocate for yourself and tell admissions who your truly are- entertain outside of the box essay ideas. You are a dynamic student, but you’ve got to prove distinct value in only a few words. Here are a few insider tips from a former admissions counselor:

    1.  Draft many different essays. You should begin drafting essays the summer before senior year and     don’t be afraid to explore many different ideas. You may submit different essays to colleges based upon their admissions criteria. Perhaps you submit an audacious essay to a reach school and a basic essay to a safety school. Don’t limit yourself to just one idea.
    2. Don’t feel pressure to mention “college”. The admissions counselor knows you’re applying to college, you don’t necessarily need to remind them. If you essay naturally discusses your career goals, that’s great, but don’t feel pressured to mention college if it’s not a natural fit.
    3. Share your essay with everybody before submitting. We all need an editor to help with our writing, so don’t be shy in asking for help. Having your counselor, teachers, family, and friends read your essay and give feedback.
    4. Be Different. If you’re bored by your essay, chances are the admissions counselor will also be. Take risks and discuss a difficult topic. Show your depth and maturity as a person and be vulnerable. Offer an in-depth look into your life- believe me, they are interested.

Check out this example of an unorthodox essay that got a student into New York University


The college admissions process is difficult and we’re here to help!! Signup for our University Scholarships Program and get pre-acceptance to US colleges and universities, scholarship offers, college essay review, and free advice from former college admissions professionals. Full program details here.

Improve your involvement outside of the classroom through our SAT Summer Camp, which includes projects with local organizations. Full program details here.

Questions? E-mail us at


I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Did you enjoy this blog post? Sign up for free and receive the latests news on scholarships, tips on common application, SAT and ACT and much more!
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Ataullah K.


“I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being patient, understanding, caring towards me for the past year. The scholarship helped a lot in getting my visa. You sure do know how to do a brilliant work and if there is any way I could take a survey about your services at Cogito, I would give you a 10 out of 10.”