The Silver Lake Blog

How to Assemble an Impressive College Application

Posted By Benjamin Wideman On November 19, 2015


If you’re a high school student, you’ve probably sorted through prospective colleges and picked the ones you’re going to apply to. Congrats!! Now that the hard work is done, you need to actually apply to these schools.

College applications have many different components. The actual application mostly asks about demographics and grades. There will often be an essay portion, resumes, and required letters of recommendation.

The application is often the first “look” that prospective colleges will have at you. While this can make them seem intimidating, don’t worry! Following these tips will help your application look professional and stand out to college admissions staffs.

Step 1: Write an outstanding essay

The essay portion of your college application allows colleges to learn more about both you and your writing style. Regardless of the subject matter, make sure you have it proofread! A big part of college involves writing papers, and colleges want to know the students they accept can write well.

Although the essay question may vary from school to school, it will likely be broad enough that you can choose from a variety of personal experiences. A good thing to talk about is an experience that transformed you in some way or helped you grow as a person. Show different learning experiences you have gone through (and emphasize that you’re a better person because of them!)—this is a good way to display your eagerness to learn and apply yourself. That’s the definition of a good student, right?

Step 2: Create a memorable resume

Your resume is your chance to show off to colleges and brag about everything you’ve accomplished throughout your life. Did you spend a weekend researching environmental science on a nature reserve? Have you performed at a prestigious music hall? Did you simply devote time to learning a subject, instrument, or sport outside of school? Put that in your resume!

Get help from a high school counselor, or even search for college resume templates on the internet to construct an aesthetically pleasing resume. This will help you to include the kind of minute details of your experiences that colleges want to see.

It’s also good to show the amount of time you had to devote to each activity, and what your activities may have taught you. Colleges like to see that you’re dedicated to and passionate about what you do!

Step 3: Apply the finishing touch to your application

So you’ve filled out the application, written the essay and resume, and asked a teacher or two to write you recommendation letters. Now what?

Most importantly (and at the risk of repeating myself), make sure you have everything proofread. Your application, your resume, your essay— everything! The last thing you want colleges to see is a simple spelling error that someone could have easily corrected for you.

Consider submitting a handwritten cover letter (if your handwriting is legible). This is a good way to tell colleges why you’re applying to that school in particular, and since many applications don’t require it, it’s another good way to stand out in your application. Consider it the cherry on top.

If you think it may boost your application, submit a portfolio of any artistic work you may have done. Even if you don’t necessarily want to pursue arts as a career, this can be a unique supplement to your application.

The process of applying to colleges may seem intimidating, but don’t freak out! The tips above are just a few of the many ways you can stand out to college admissions staff members. Following these tips can help you build an exceptional application that will have the acceptance letters rolling in before you know it!

Topics: Applying to College

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About This Blog

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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