Online college application forms have a way of forcing our brains into automatic mode – check the box, answer the question, keep moving . . . . .
Yet, this seemingly impersonal procedure is the only avenue of communicating the vibrancy of the individual student in question. We know, as we look at this child that we have nurtured for the last 18 years, that they are special and deserve the best chance we can give them of attending the college they desire. In order to do that, we need to move away from box-checking and pay attention. Your student’s application must be crystal clear and engaging for it to rise to the top.
Choose Your Words Carefully
From the list of activities in any application to short answer questions to essays, word choice matters! We use strong action verbs in activity lists and paint pictures with words in essays. Each piece of the application is an important part of the presentation to colleges.
Don’t Play Into Stereotypes
Anyone who deals with teens all day everyday is aware that kids tend to fall into fairly predictable stereotypes based on their academic or activity preferences, their socioeconomic level, or their parents’ backgrounds. No one is intentionally trying to pigeonhole kids, but after years of experience, certain images come to mind when you see a certain profile. Thus, I help students carefully avoid reinforcing the negative parts of their stereotypes throughout the application. We look for ways to move outside the stereotype and show their uniqueness in each step of the process.
Call Forth Their Best Efforts
In the thick of the application season it is too easy for our kids to hurriedly throw together an essay and call it good. Even though everyone is drooping, take the time to step back from any writing and let it grow cold. After several days, revisit the piece and see if it really communicates the heart of your student. Is it intriguing? Did you want to keep reading? Is it the story that only they can tell? If not, encourage them to take the time to rewrite until it is.
Would you like to learn how to do all these things? Next week, I’ll be teaching a live class called College Application Secrets. Join us to learn how to effectively help your student present a stunning college application!
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