Highlight Your Strengths on Your College Applications

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The college application process is not meant to be a breeze; it’s meant to push you further and force you to think about yourself a little more. Of course, it's not possible to reveal your entire personality or all of your fascinating experiences through a few sheets of paper.

Admission officers know there is more to you than grades and test scores, and most importantly, you know this too. So, now that that expectation has been dealt with, you need to ask yourself: “What parts of myself do I want to portray?” Admission officers don’t have time to sit down and ponder what type of student and person you are through the representation of your extracurricular activities and interests. Since this is the case, it is your job to make sure that your point shows through. Choose one or two (maximum) main attributes about yourself that you want to impress the admission officer with.

Be a leader

One of the most common things that students use is “leadership.” Almost everyone these days calls himself a “leader.” But, instead of constantly stating it, how can you allow that trait to shine through? There are many activities that involve leadership skills. Your activities can range from being the captain of a tennis team to an officer in student council to the editor of a literary magazine to a camp counselor. Basically, any position of responsibility involves leadership ability. Along with being a leader, other qualities come across as well, such as dedication, hard work, sociability, charisma, and perseverance.

It all depends on how you spin it. If you have an amazing experience or position that clearly demonstrates these attributes, just mentioning it in your list of activities may not be enough! You could develop your application essay around that experience and work through it with some good storytelling and creativity. For instance, I personally focused on leadership through perseverance. One of my essays was based on the fact that I ran for office seven times within my first two years of high school. And do you want to know how many times I lost? I’m going to tell you anyway: seven times. It was not until my junior year that I finally attained the position that I had coveted since my first day in high school. Instead of just writing about the wonderful things I did once I was in office, it shows something different about me as a person to hear my sad history of losses. Doesn’t it? Now you probably think I’m pathetic. Well, that’s ok! Perseverance, remember?

Show your personality

Besides the obvious and attractive qualities like leadership and hard work, you may want to present a more personable side to yourself. It’s great to write about all the hardships that you may have survived, but you don’t want to make yourself seem like some Greek god with no weaknesses. You don’t need to be perfect in order for them to accept you. Be creative, be light, be serious, be interesting, be clear, be honest, be yourself!

At the end of the day, if you make yourself out to be someone you're not, you could very possibly end up at a college or university that is not a personality match for you. Ending up at an established institution of higher learning is extremely important, but as important (if not more important) is being at a college or university that is a personality match for you. If you are unhappy, surrounded by people vastly unlike yourself and in an environment that does not allow you to grow to your fullest potential you are only cheating yourself. By being yourself on your college applications, you ensure that you are accepted to the colleges and universities that are strong personality matches for you, and ultimately give yourself the best chances of long term success in college and afterward.

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