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Making Yourself Stand Out - Before You Apply

Follow Ariana's advice and stand out from the rest of the applicants.

Ariana Pugh

October 18, 2011

Making Yourself Stand Out - Before You Apply
When you first begin the long process of applying to college, it’s easy to feel like you’ll never stand out amongst the thousands of applicants. It doesn’t feel like enough to send in an application that shows off your amazing credentials and talents – you want the school of your dreams to see how serious you are about attending. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to get your name out there, and let the college know that you’re ready to handle being a student there. The application process can be incredibly confusing, and chances are, you’re going to end up calling the school at some point to ask a few questions. Ideally, that means literally you and not your parents.

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It’s sometimes tough to maintain composure and ask the right questions, so even if you have your parents coach you beforehand or you keep them right next to you, being the one speaking when admissions answers the phone tells the university that you’re a mature, responsible person who’s ready to handle the college process.
You may get transferred to an admissions counselor – someone who you want to know your name, not your mother’s or father’s. Asking a few questions and having a quick chat is a great way to have someone at the school hear your name and have a positive impression of you, before you send in a single test score.

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If at all possible, join the school’s mailing list, go on a campus tour or attend an open house. Schools keep data on who is on the mailing lists and attends these tours, and when you apply, they’ll be able to see how many university events you attended. If at all possible, go on a campus tour or attend an open house. Of course, if you live too far away to attend an event, never fear. Simply calling the school and asking a few questions is still a great way to get the college to recognize you , but there’s more you can do. You may be able to schedule an interview with an admissions office by phone or via Skype if visiting the school simply isn’t in the cards. You can also call to find out if the school will be hosting any events in your area or if an admissions councilor will be out your way. There’s still a chance to meet an admissions officer if there’s no way to make it to campus – all you need to do is call and ask.. If you have an area you’re particularly strong in, or if you’re interested in a specific program at the school, ask if you can send in additional materials. For example, if you’re very interested in the writing program at a specific school, find out if you can send in an additional sample of your work besides the personal statement.

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At best, you’re sending in resume-boosting material that can mean the difference between the wait-list and acceptance. Even if the school says no or tells you that what you send will have no bearing on the admissions decision, you’re still showing the school that you’ve got a skill you’d like to show off. If you’re really trying to impress a school, the name of the game is interest! Get out there and let the school know who you are. Show the university that you are not only an awesome student; you’re a passionate and mature student who’s ready to take on the next step.

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