College Applications: A Guide for Navigating the Journey

August 17th, 2021

Reading time about 13 min

Candidates with well-rounded education are mostly preferred by companies today, and this shows why it is crucial for one to do higher education in a college or university. With college applications, you enter tertiary education. To make a difference and increase your chances of getting selected, a college application should have the following elements.

What Should Good College Applications Have?

Applying to college for many students is exciting, but at the same time, they wonder what exactly they should have in a college application. When competition is fierce among high school students to get into their dream school, with a right approach and emphasis on your most impressive qualities you can have an application that helps you stand out among other students.

A recent survey shows that most of the leading universities or colleges in US for fall 2019 have the lowest acceptance rates, and hence, earning admission to any of them can be really difficult if your application fails to make a lasting impression on the school’s admission committee. What factors go in to make a college application outstanding. Here are a few important ones other than the key personality traits like genuine interest, ambition, motivation and passion.

College Applications
  • Strong GPA Grades in Academics

Your academic profile consists of grade-point averages (GPA) and test scores. Most schools you want to apply have specific test score or GPA requirements. Therefore, a college application includes the transcript, which shows your education history like the classes you attended, grades received, credits earned and GPA for every quarter in high school. With a high GPA, your college application looks strong for about 75 percent of colleges consider GPA in high school as the highest ranking factor for earning admission.

Where you have scored a GPA higher than the average GPA required by the college you are going to apply, you have a better chance to get shortlisted provided you meet the other requirements too.

  • Excellent Test Scores

The second most important aspect of a college application is test scores, especially SAT or ACT scores. The survey conducted by NACAC reveals that about 46 percent of colleges give considerable importance to test scores, while about 37 percent of them give moderate importance. There are colleges that consider test scores as optional; nevertheless, they still use them to decide on merit-based financial aid. To have your application shortlisted, you need to obtain a higher SAT/ACT score than that of the admitted students.

  • Well-Written Personal Statement Essay

A college application should also include a personal statement essay, which is one among the difficult aspects of the application procedure. An admission essay helps demonstrate your personality, and therefore, you need to write it exceptionally well. The survey conducted by NACAC reveals that among the factors important for admission decisions in college, essay writing has been given about 23 percent considerable importance and about 33 percent moderate importance by the admission officers. This makes you write an impressive personal statement essay with three major qualities:

  • Specificity: Your writing should express your views, ideas and experiences effectively through concrete details to make it unique, personable and memorable.
  • Honesty: What you write in your essay is about you, and it is important that you think and carefully deliberate what actually you want to say drawn from your personal experiences. You should not lie or exaggerate.
  • Eloquence: A personal statement should be free of any types of errors and organized well. Your essay will be accepted if it is perfectly written, and is interesting, clear and powerful.   

Your essay should have the above three qualities, and for that you have to undergo a few steps:

Step 1:

You will be given a prompt to write by the college you have selected or you can choose one from the common app. The topic you write would generally demonstrate your ability, interest, or personality trait through some particular incident, which has actually happened. When writing, you have to be very specific by focusing on a specific issue, challenge, event or struggle, and make it interesting by revealing things positive, real and good about you.

Step 2:

Once you have your ideas, the next step is to write. You should remember to write from the heart, and include all the reasons and examples that help to reveal you. You have to meet all the technical requirements of the college application, and can ensure it by going through the instructions in the common application on the college website.

Step 3:

Before submitting the essay, you need to edit it. You can use a grammar checker for any errors in sentence structure, word choice, punctuation, and so on. Also, check for any plagiarized content on a plagiarism scanner for there are chances that you may have committed plagiarism unintentionally.

College Applications

Avoid Plagiarism When Writing Essays

Reports say that over 44 percent of personal statements contained duplicate content, which is disturbing. Students should know what constitutes potential plagiarism in writing research papers. It is important that they avoid borrowing ideas from others, which a plagiarism detector can easily identify. An advanced anti-plagiarism tool can even detect paraphrased text with no proper citation.

When you have finished writing, run a plagiarism test on an online plagiarism checker and get a report, which shows the percentage of plagiarism detected text. You can check the college website to learn how a plagiarism checker works, about failing grades and possible consequences.

  • Strong Extracurricular Activities

Colleges want to know that other than working hard in academics, you also have real-world experience by engaging in extracurricular activities. They include your activities in clubs, sports and volunteering. You have to detail your involvement in clubs, whether you are musician, public speaker or debater and any leadership position you hold. Similarly, you can show your involvement in sports and volunteering. Where you have done any internship or participated in a workshop, you can mention that too.

  • Letters or Recommendation

You are required to submit one or two letters of recommendations from your teacher, counsellor or present employer. They are considered essential for they help the admission committee know more about you. Ideally, a teacher is able to give as he or she would have very good insights into your academic strengths and other qualities such as hard work, leadership, social responsibility and initiative.

These are the few important factors most college applications should have to make a difference.

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