Many people look at college applications as a bunch of information to fill out; however, I would encourage you to view it as a story to be told.
There are many moving pieces in our children’s applications:
- Personal essay
- Supplemental college essays
- Short answer questions
- Interview resume
- Biographical information
- Teacher recommendations (2)
- Other recommendations (if applicable)
- Music or art supplements (only if extremely talented)
- Additional Scholarship essays and interviews
- High School Counselor letter
- Course Descriptions
- School Profile
Each of these pieces can be, and usually is, dashed off with no thought as to how it impacts the other pieces or how it contributes to the overall narrative. Thus, all the facts tend to jumble in the reviewer’s head and there is no clear picture that emerges of the student.
I encourage a holistic approach. By mapping out each required element and assigning it a certain part of the story to tell, we have a lot better chance at communicating our child’s uniqueness. Essays should work together to highlight different facets of our student’s experience. Activities, resumes, and interviews need to be formatted from general themes that define our kid’s life. Each recommender should have a distinctive role to play and specific things to emphasize. If a homeschool parent/counselor is writing the counselor letter, they should share the rest of the story that students cannot tell in their own part of the application.
The best college applications are a creative endeavor that tie loose ends together and make it easy for an admissions officer to quickly grasp who your child is and what they would contribute to a college campus.