Subject: Stand Out From the Crowd- If the U Fits series

Upward Bound & Talent Search
Stand Out From the Crowd
how to become a more competitive college applicant 
Applying to college is a highly competitive process.Therefore, it is important to set yourself apart from the millions of other students who will be applying to your dream school or scholarship. It is no longer just about class rank, GPA, or test scores. Colleges are now looking for students who are well rounded and who go above and beyond the norm. Your approach to college starts during high school. It is the time where you take charge of your academic life. Here are four  ways to set yourself apart, in high school, that will give you a leg up when applying to colleges.
1. Honors, AP, and IB Classes
Colleges like to see students who have chosen to take rigorous classes, who seem to challenge themselves, and who seem to take risks. These classes impress college admissions officers and are indicators that you are ready for the hard work of an undergraduate environment. Most colleges have a description of their recommended class rigor on their website. Taking these college-prep classes in high school also allow you more flexibility in college. 
Here are some benefits:
1. Earn college credits
2. Skip introductory courses
3. Build college skills

"Send us prepared students a la IB...It is the best curriculum an American school can offer." 
- Marilee Jones, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

2. Extra-Curricular Activities and Special Talents

What you do outside of the classroom also weighs heavily when applying to college. They love to see unique students who challenge themselves in more than academic ways. Joining or creating extra-curricular activities like clubs or teams show potential colleges that you are a team player and also that you have leadership skills. Showing colleges any special talents you may have ( band, art,etc) will also help you stand out. These outside activities show that you have the ability to juggle work and fun. It shows commitment and that you have other interests. Here are some other great platforms to demonstrate initiative to potential colleges:

Internships/Summer Programs

Visiting Colleges

Student Government
3. Community Service

Volunteering shows initiative and that you have a commitment to service, a strong character, an interest in community, and leadership qualities. Going above the required number of service learning hours could be the difference between you and another student being accepted to a university or getting a scholarship. 
4. Letters of Recommendation

A great reference letter can be the difference between being accepted or rejected. Letters of recommendation are great ways to pad your application and set you apart from other candidates. Getting quality reccommendations from teachers, counselors, volunteer supervisors, or outreach speacialists (hint, hint) gives admissions counselors a more complete picture of you. These letters of recommendation show your work ethic, character, and strengths from the perspective of reliable and reputable sources. They are a way to corroborate all the great things you have said about yourself and show that someone is willing to speak on your behalf.

Check out what Harvard looks for in an applicant: CLICK HERE >>
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