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How to Help Students Stand Out in College Applications

How to Help Students Stand Out in College Applications

Catherine Marrs | Teaching.monster.com

Parents often ask what else they can do besides insuring their students make good grades and test well on the SAT and/or ACT to help their students look impressive on paper.

My answer is always about the student’s passion. What does the student enjoy doing? Colleges want to see well-rounded young people. They want to see a student demonstrate leadership, an interest in their community, involvement in activities that the students enjoy.

Colleges do not want to see extensive resumes of long lists of extracurricular activities and community service for the sake of building the resume. Students do not need to have so much to do that they do not have any “down time”. They need a select few activities they truly enjoy.

What is “depth”? Depth can be developed in many ways. For instance, if a student has relatively in other parts of the country or the world, being able to spend time with them and experience living for a week or more with them helps build depth because they are seeing how others live and handle the day to day activities. Any opportunity to live in a third world environment builds depth…this includes working for Habitat for Humanity or teaching Vacation Bible School in a poor area within Dallas or one of the suburbs.

“Depth” is what makes people interesting. Colleges are seeking students that will be interesting contributors to their campuses and their student population. Parents and students need to plan their summers beginning summer after 8th grade. Students do not need more than one to three weeks of “down time” where they do nothing. Students need to do the following every summer:

Read Create a reading list and set a goal of how many books can be read during the summer(this means more than the required reading)

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Community Service Students need to spend at least 40 hours during the summer volunteering for a cause they believe in

Summer Programs can be local, can be elsewhere: on a college campus studying for a few weeks either something in science, math, engineering, creative writing, history etc

Travel If at all possible, students need to travel during the summer – even if it is to see grandparents elsewhere in the US

Work If a student cannot do the summer programs or travel, they can get a job…if they are under 16, they can be creative and become entrepreneurial.

“Depth” also occurs during the school year. Students need to participate in their community both at school and outside of school. If a student does not enjoy sports, they do not have to be on a school or club athletic team. They do need to find something else that they can commit time and put effort into doing. Students must demonstrate leadership. They can do this gradually during high school. If a student joins the school newspaper in 9th grade, surely by their junior or senior year, they can be editor of a section or the whole paper or they can be the advertising chief. If a student enjoys sports, the student can work their way into being captain or co-captain of the team by their senior year.

Related Articles:
Identifying Student Strengths
5 Reasons School Counseling is a Great Career
Mean Girls and Relational Aggression


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