Your College Application Shouldn’t Be Like All the Guys with Vertical Striped Shirts at the Club

Try to remember the last time you went to a party that DIDN’T have the guy (or guys, often times) against the wall wearing a vertical striped shirt (untucked, of course), with one hand holding a drink and the other hand resting safely in the front pocket of his jeans.

That’s right. You probably can’t. Because that happened at every social event that ever took place. Now tell me something unique or interesting about that same person at the most recent event you attended. Again, a bit difficult, no? Why?

It’s hard to notice details of people or things you’re not paying attention to. Previously, we saw how you’re not getting that cushy job just because you have a sexy degree, since a lot of people will have the same degree. Even if that degree says “Harvard” on it, there are still more than a thousand others receiving that same degree, from that same school, in that same year. And that’s just one school.

Even if your immediate concern is gaining admission into your college of choice, standing out is still the name of the game. Think about how many applications these admissions officers read every year. At some point, their eyes glaze over and everyone has more or less the same extracurriculars (even those of you who went on a volunteer trip to Africa: ask around and see who else also did that), the same grades, the same everything. What makes you different? And just as important, how do we help colleges recognize that?

You could have a lot to offer, but if no one knows about it, then it means nothing. Remember striped collared shirt guy from last Saturday? He could have been the most interesting gentleman in NYC. But he never got the chance to show that, and we all missed out on seeing that. The first step is to GET NOTICED.

Before we can figure out how to separate your file from the rest of the pile (101,655 applied to UC Berkeley for 2016-17), we need to know what we’re highlighting. We need to decide how you want to be seen, how you want to be positioned. So first, we identify your strengths and how you’re different, then we figure out how to showcase that to admissions departments. (And if there aren’t a lot of strengths there, then there’s some developing we’ll need to do, but that’s for a separate post.)

The key to receiving the letter that begins with “Congratulations!...” is to truly improve yourself and put your best foot forward for college admissions officers to see. So remember: we must grab their attention first, then we keep their attention.

Stay tuned for further insights, and let us know any suggestions or questions you want us to address in the future.

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