2 years ago
Admissions Advice

How can I make sure my college applications stand out for prestigious schools?

Im graduating high school in 2023, which means that I will be applying to colleges in fall 2022 and hopefully on a college campus in fall 2023. My high school will be helping me with the applications, but I want to stand out. I don’t have many extracurriculars and haven’t received my SAT Scores yet, I took it yesterday. Should I try to build my extracurriculars up or look for acceptance letters? Im not sure how to increase my chances of getting into prestigious schools.

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2 answers

Accepted Answer
2 years ago

Hello! Having great extracurriculars is definitely a way to stand out to prestigious schools. Though I do have to say, it's important you keep your activities and extracurriculars authentic. Don't resume build for the purpose of colleges, rather, take on extracurriculars because of your own personal interests. Take debate club as an example. Yes, a captain or president of a school's debate club might have a slight edge over other applicants, but if that person doesn't have any supplemental activities or tangible evidence of pursuing debate to an extraordinary degree outside of the club, admissions officers are inclined to believe that the interest in debate might be ingenuine. Why would someone be so committed to debate and obtain a leadership role yet show no other signs of interest in debate? Admissions officers view your application as a profile, sort of like a puzzle that describes you. If things seem abrupt and out of place, they might pick up that your application is a bit inauthentic.

Of course, take what I say with a grain of salt. Authentic or inauthentic, extracurriculars always help your application, though it's important to ask yourself, "what am I ready to commit myself to?" Embark on a series of projects and activities that you enjoy, and this will naturally help admissions officers piece together this symbolic puzzle that describes you.

Now, if you just want to get into any prestigious school, you can try applying to as many T20s as you can. But, I really recommend you apply to schools you have a genuine interest in attending. These CAN be prestigious schools, and often are. Lots of students want to be a part of a like minded student body, but don't feel the need to exclude "less prestigious" institutions if you find them compatible to your interests.

Other then that, you only have a finite amount of things to work on moving forward:

- Write some stellar essays starting now

- Keep up your GPA and Course Rigor

- And work on test scores if you have the time and energy (don't over exhaust yourself for an optional standardized test)

Best of luck!

2 years ago[edited]

To increase your chances of getting in, you want to make sure that you are working on your extracurriculars, definitely, but don't feel like you need to be involved in absolutely everything at your school. Colleges are looking for you to be deeply involved in one or two extracurriculars that you really care about. If you can, you could try to get involved in something that is connected to your intended major. As for your scores, while they do matter, try not to stress about them too much! They are only one part of your application and you won't be immediately discounted because of your test scores. But, you do want to make it as good as you can. Since you are a junior, try to start thinking about what you want to write about in your essays, because they are a crucial part of the application! They don't have to be about anything extraordinary that happened to you, either! Colleges just want to get to know the real you. As well, make sure that you are keeping your grades up so that you can have a GPA heading into your senior year, and soon you should start talking to your counselor about what classes you are taking next year to boost your chances of getting in. Good luck with your applications!

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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