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5 Tactics Sure to Send Your College Application to the Top of the Pile (Hint: Start early!)

Photo credit: Getty Images/kali9

Photo credit: Getty Images/kali9

Good grades and well-written essays are staples of stellar college applications. But what really makes a student stand out to college admissions counselors? Students can earn a coveted spot at their dream school with these five easy steps to an A-plus application.

  1. Beat the deadlines. Check specific due dates for essays, letters of recommendation and all necessary application materials on colleges’ websites. Mark each date in your calendar for at least two weeks out and plan backward to get your work finished by the deadlines you set for yourself. This gives you a jump on the process and saves you the stress of waiting until the last minute.
  2. Have an outsider critique your application. Don’t just hand it to any stranger on the street, but have someone who doesn’t know you look over your essay and materials. Ask an English teacher you haven’t taken a class with, or look for writing centers in your town or at the local library. Gauge their first impression of the package and you – did you present yourself well? Are they left with questions about who you are? An unbiased person will be critical and unafraid to hurt your feelings.
  3. Show off your passions and interests. Colleges have plenty of smart applicants. One way to help stand out is to share details about your extra-curricular activities, even if they don’t align perfectly to your chosen area of study. They want students who will make a difference on their campuses. It doesn’t matter what you do; it matters that you choose activities you like and commit to them.
  4. Don’t let your social life overshadow your accomplishments. You’ve made it to senior year—you deserve to celebrate. But colleges these days can utilize social media in their decision-making. Don’t post anything to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter that would raise a red flag to an admission counselor or hurt your chances. (It’s also good practice for your future job hunt!)
  5. Be honest. Don’t make yourself out to be the person you think colleges want you to be when filling out your application—just be yourself! Beefing up your personal essay with white lies won’t serve you in the long run and may actually lead you to a school that’s not the right fit.

For a school that gives you the jump-start you need on college, visit Episcopal Academy.