The Silver Lake Blog

4 Secrets to the College Application Debunked: Advice from a College Admissions Counselor

Posted By Ryan Roberts On December 24, 2015


As a college admissions counselor, reading college applications is a rather significant portion of my job. Therefore, it can be concluded that I have seen many applications. And thus, I have a lot to say about what to include and exclude from applications, about the characteristics that separate good applications from great ones and the ways in which you can truly, WOW your admissions counselors.

Here are a few tips I can provide to those of you considering the process, halfway through it or already applied and accepted. Know there is still time to apply! The hourglass hasn’t quite dropped its last grain of sand.

1 | First and foremost: Never sell yourself short.

As a junior or senior high school student, your underclassman years can feel like a decade ago. It’s important to recall your extracurriculars — yes, all of them! Even if it was volunteering with your church’s youth group or the Habitat for Humanity, include it. These are valuable pieces of information that have immense potential, especially when your application stands beside another one!

Your abilities and interests in participating in the chess club, on the soccer team, or in the choir matter! One common thing students forget to include are those activities they were a part of outside of school. It’s important to incorporate everything you can. Among the top things students forget to include in their college applications are these:

  • Awards and honors received
  • Service on Student Council
  • Athletic achievement (team captain, etc)
  • Other club and organization memberships

Remember: It’s the little things that matter. One little extracurricular activity could be the deciding factor and the difference between a good application and a great application.

2 | Turn in your application early

Too often I have seen incomplete applications where students forget to send their high school transcripts, reference letters, or write their personal statements. By turning your application in early, you can allot time to perfect your testing scores, write the best personal statement, make a campus visit, schedule a campus interview, or file the FAFSA to apply for scholarships, loans or grant money.

Opportunities are endless when you turn your applications in early. You will have more time to look over your application, have it proofread by others, and ultimately, make your decision!

3 | Use your waiting time wisely

The time between submitting your application and receiving a response from the Office of Admissions can seem like a long time, but there are ways you can use this time well. Here are a few things I recommend:

  • Follow up with counselors to see what else you can do to prepare
  • File for the FAFSA
  • Visit campus
  • Speak with a coach or director at the school

4 | What I like to see in applications

I like to see a solid student who is involved in their community and school in a variety of ways.  A student who continues to be active in their college community will be more likely to be happy and successful at the college level. In addition, active participation in college and community life shows that a student is well-rounded and that is appealing to an admissions office staff.

It’s easy for applications to get lost in the shuffle, but by taking advice from people who have either had experience in the admissions decisions process, applied themselves, or who are in the field of admissions counseling you can turn your application into a great one!

If you have any further questions or would simply like to know more about the college admissions process, inquire below!

Talk to an Admissions Counselor

Topics: Applying to College

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Deciding where, when and by what means to go to college can be a difficult decision process. We want to help! The Silver Lake Blog is intended to be a resource as you navigate these choices, from what type of school to choose to how to finance your education. Watch this space for helpful tips. 

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