As you apply for college, you might wonder how you can stand out in a sea of fellow students. Every student is unique and has their own strengths and experiences; you’re no different! Check out these six ways to make your college application stand out and showcase your strengths, interests, and communication skills.
Become an Activist
Colleges love to see students that are passionate, organized, and mature. By choosing a cause that is important to you, you can demonstrate these traits on your applications. You can volunteer, start a club or fundraiser at your school, write to your local newspaper, submit an article to a website, or sell crafts in order to donate the proceeds to your cause. These experiences will also give you something genuine to write about in your application essays.
Create a Website
Show off your communication and technology skills by starting your own website! Websites can serve as an online resume for you, and you can make it as simple or as complex as you’d like. You could start a blog, or just keep a one-page site with a brief list of accomplishments and goals. Sites like WordPress and Wix offer free options so that you don’t have to pay for your domain. If you keep this site into the future, you’ll have a place to display your work in college and create a portfolio to show off to future employers.
Make a Goal and Track It
Set a fun goal for yourself, and track your progress on a blog, Instagram account, or YouTube channel! You could learn a new skill like playing an instrument, try out a new lifestyle like vegan eating for 6 months, or decide you want to read one book every week and write a review. By tracking your goal, you’re showing that you are creative, can follow through with what you set out to do, and are goal-oriented. By sharing your journey online, you are also building in accountability and demonstrating your communication skills!
College Courses & Activities
Getting involved with coursework or extracurriculars at a local college or university can provide you with new experiences to talk about on your applications, increase your knowledge base, and show that you are ready to take on college life. If you have a nearby college or university, you can ask about the possibility of auditing/enrolling in a course that interests you or joining extracurriculars. Often, there will be music ensembles or club sports that are open to community members if you want to get involved in an activity. Talk to your high school guidance counselor about dual-enrollment opportunities available to you, which may include online courses. This may also provide you with the option of earning course credit, which could allow you to save money in college or even graduate early.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
Massive Open Online Courses – or MOOCs – are short, online classes offered by institutions of higher education to help people learn subject material that interests them. These courses are offered on platforms such as Coursera and EdX, and cover a wide range of topics such as music, computer science, history, and more. Many of these classes are free, and there are also options for paid courses to apply for financial aid that will lower the cost, or even bring it down to zero. While these courses will not confer college credit, they will show that you are serious about learning, have expanded your knowledge base, and are more prepared to take on college coursework. They will also show that you are tech-savvy and that you seek out whatever opportunities you can find.
Visit, Reach Out, and Research
Visiting every college on your list can be challenging, especially if you live far away, do not have reliable transportation, or are super busy. However, making as much of an effort as possible to make connections at your prospective colleges will show admissions staff that you are truly interested in their university. Taking tours, sitting in on classes, attending special events for students, shadowing current students, and setting up in-person interviews on campus are great ways to make connections with faculty, staff, and students, as well as get a feel for the campus. If you are not able make an in-person visit, try sending an email with some questions, set up a Zoom interview. You can also set up a profile on Raise.me, which works with colleges and universities to show you how much financial aid you may get, and can also demonstrate that you are serious about a college when they review your application.
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