When you apply to college you must know
October: It's that time of the year again when all high school seniors will be looking at colleges, studying application forms while writing personal essays and sitting for standardised tests such as SATs. Yes, it's time to start working on your college applications. The deadlines are just around the corner.
When you apply to college you must know you are not the only one applying. There will be millions of other high school seniors applying this year with you and hence there is going to be immense competition. Therefore you need to make your application stand out in order to compete with those millions of high school seniors. And for that you should know what exactly the college you are applying to is looking for. Here are some qualifications that nearly all colleges look for in students.
Colleges in Pakistan usually look for a particular set of subjects such as sciences - Physics, Chemistry and Biology or business group, which include Economics, Accounts and Business Studies at A Level - but most universities abroad like variety. They would appreciate a student who has studied Maths, Physics and Economics along with English literature or World Affairs. They believe students with a variety of subjects have a broader vision and perspective, which is also true. So highlight all the different courses you have taken in your application.
Falling grades is a major turn off for colleges so never let that happen. If you had weaker grades to begin with and improved them, don't hesitate in applying because colleges appreciate students who improve their grades over a course of time. Also, colleges look for consistency and improvement in students and when they see that in a particular student, they become confident that he/she will be able to manage the workload and the stress brought along by college.
They say one third of your admission decision for US colleges depends on your SAT scores. Standardised tests such as SATs are pretty much as important as your O and A Levels put together. So now that you know of its importance, put more effort in there. It's not that difficult at the end of the day and you can easily ace it with proper practice. Still if you find it hard, don't hesitate in getting tutoring. You can also get help from sample papers and practice tests.
All the top-ranking colleges of the world look for leadership potential in students. The college essay or the personal statement is a great way of letting them know about your leadership potential. You can do this by sharing your past experiences that reveal your leadership skills. If you have ever been a monitor in your class, or a class representative, head boy or head girl, mention that along with any leadership conferences that you may have attended.
If not, try attending a leadership summit or conference because not only will that be a great thing to add in your essay but be a life-changing experience for you as well.
If you think colleges are looking for bookworms and nerds who spend all their time buried in books, let me tell you that it's not entirely true. Agreed that grades are the main factor in your admission decision but top-notch colleges like the IVY leagues and others will look beyond your transcript and then make the decision. They are looking for bright students who can manage studies along with a lot of other things.
Community service plays a great part in admission decisions today. Social work and community service show that a student cares about a lot more than just himself and is passionate about the betterment of society. So if you have spent a summer teaching kids at the slum or collected funds for the flood victims, this will suffice as good social work and you can if you wish mention it in your personal statement.
Gone are the days when high school students only had grades and extracurricular activities like debates, sports and dramatics to their credit. Today, they have a good employment history as well and a list of internships they have done before they join college. Work experience shows that students can handle authority and responsibility and meet strict deadlines. It also shows how a student is dependable. Even though senior year is not the perfect time to get work experience since there's so much more to take care of during that time, if you don't have any experience, try getting an internship during your winter vacations. Ideally you should have done some work in the past summer already.
The college essay
The college essay or the personal statement is your chance to tell the admission office about what kind of a person you are, what you have done in life till now, why do you want to study a specific subject at that college and what do you hope to achieve from life. Don't waste this precious space in talking about your grades even if they are great because you will already be attaching your transcripts. Use the space wisely talking about your aims, goals, desires and aspirations in life. Get your college essay checked by a college counselor or your English teacher.
Letters of recommendation
The kind of recommendation you get from a teacher will depend on that teacher but what teacher you chose to ask for a recommendation depends on you. So chose your teacher wisely. Make sure you ask that teacher who has a good impression of you and can describe you perfectly. Meet with your teacher and tell them about a particular achievement that you want mentioned in your recommendation in order to make them unique.
A diverse student
More than anything else, most colleges out there are looking for diverse students who have a variety of experiences. By a diverse student, they mean someone who has studied a variety of different subjects, perhaps knows languages other than English and has participated in social work and extracurricular activities, as stated above - basically, what they call a well rounded student.
So make your application in a way that it makes you look like the student that they have been looking for. All the best with the most tiring and challenging procedure of your life - applying to colleges! - By Hafsah Sarfraz (Dawn)Your Comments