Updated November 29, 2022 · 2 Min Read

Learn some key tips for standing out in the college application process, including the one tip that is unique to the 21st century! is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Tips to Stand Out Among College Applicants

  • Online Presence and Passions
  • Admission Representative
  • Know the School
  • Beyond Grades
  • Show Interest in That School

It's difficult to get into your first choice for college. You have to stand out in a positive way from the other applicants. They become competitors for the few spots available in the school each year. There are certain ways you can stand out without having to resort to backflips in the middle of the admissions office, although that might be impressive as well.

Online Presence and Passions

Before applying to the college of your choice, experts recommend cleaning up your social media platforms. You don't need to get rid of all your pictures, but remove the ones that show you making poor decisions. Those that involve swearing, negativity or hostility should be removed. You could also make your profile private on many platforms without losing your ability to share with family and friends. If you have a clean social media stream, you can enhance it by sharing your passions and interests too. Consider creating a website to highlight your passions and projects that will make you interesting to a college admissions representative too. You can include the address of the site in your application.

Admission Representative

When you're friendly and keep your name in front of the admissions rep, you're likely to be the first that person chooses when the time comes for admitting new applicants. If your grades aren't quite high enough, you can still impress the rep with your dedication to being accepted at the school. Some students have sent handwritten notes updating the rep on their progress and new skills they're learning each month in preparation for entrance into the school. It can't hurt to make yourself known to the people who are in charge of admissions at the school. There's a fine line between nagging and impressing the college staff, so be careful of that line.

Know the School

The staff is always impressed when a student knows the values and goals of the school. The department chairs and faculty have a mission statement that drives everything they do at the school, and when the prospective student can mention that, it shows they care enough to have done their research. At the time of admissions, the student who can mention a few names and have met a few of the teachers will have an advantage over a generic application.

Beyond Grades

When you have good grades, you assume that will help you get into any college you want. Instead, you'll find that you have to compete with the hundreds or thousands of other students with the same good grades. This is where extracurricular activities can help you stand out against others. It's why you need a great essay to show more of your personality. Admissions personnel want to hear what drives you to succeed, and why you'd be an asset to their school. Like any great storytelling, you need to show, not tell during your narrative. The reader needs to feel you have an emotional connection to the school. That can be done with a great essay.

Show Interest in That School

Many students applying to a few colleges forget to make it personal. You have to show that college that you are serious about attending that school specifically. With mass applications, it's easy to forget to tell the admissions people why you've chosen their school and what you love about it. Be enthusiastic and connect with the people at the school. Visit the campus if possible, join their Facebook page and stay in touch.

While experts recommend sending video applications and supplemental materials to stand out with the admissions office, you likely don't have to go that far. Write a great essay, start a website to highlight your accomplishments and passions and learn as much as you can about the school you want to attend. When you've done all that, your desire to attend that school will show in the application process.

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