Beyond test scores and activities, how can you make your application for university or college stand out? Megan Summers shares five ways to help you and your child master the university admissions journey.
#1 Be a matchmaker
Universities don’t just look at grades – they also look at how well suited a student is to the programme. When researching universities, find specific programmes that match your child’s interests and values and design the application to reflect why your child would be a good fit. For example, if your child is a wannabe tech-preneur, consider the Berkeley M.E.T. (Management, Entrepreneurship & Technology) programme, which aims to encourage entrepreneurship by combining engineering and business expertise. For this programme, a student who demonstrates specific engineering and business interests in their application stands a much higher chance than an applicant who is an all-rounder.
#2 Apply early
The early bird gets the worm! Historically, early applications have better admissions rates because you’re entering a smaller (but just as competitive) applicant pool. It’s the admissions equivalent to gaming the system. For example, Harvard admitted 21 percent of their applicants in the early action round and less than 5 percent in the regular decision round in the 2017-2018 admissions cycle. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into – Early Decision is legally binding, meaning you’ll have to go to the school you got into, whereas Early Action isn’t.
#3 Find ways to improve your community
Avoid the trap of the laundry list of extracurricular activities. Instead, identify a problem in your community and solve it. We had a student who was interested in robotics, as were his peers. However, they hadn’t any means to build their knowledge in this area. Instead of complaining about it, he organised a robotics workshop in which he invited Computer Science professors to give lectures and coach fellow students interested in robotics. Admissions officers are looking for students who will contribute to the school community, so getting involved with your own local community is a great way to demonstrate what you bring to the table. Expats also tend to move in their own little bubbles, so this could even offer a new perspective on where you live!
#4 Connect the dots with essays
See the essays as a way to explain your activities and to give a more holistic understanding of who you are as a person. If you are applying for a political science programme but have listed a lot of unrelated activities (such as dance or chemistry activities) in your application, include a coherent narrative that demonstrates how those activities informed your political interests (if they did).
#5 Presentation factors matter
Your application will be just one of thousands of applications and will be read in four minutes! Your application is your first impression – that’s all they get from you. So, presentation matters. Of course, spelling must be correct but remember to put things into context. Be aware that someone outside of your local area is reviewing your application, so avoid abbreviations and be as detailed as possible.
About Crimson Education
Megan is an Admissions Consultant at Crimson Education, which offers a three-to-one (three experts to one student) approach to help students discover a path to the world’s best universities and colleges. In the 2017-2018 application cycle, 100 percent of Crimson’s Singapore students got into at least one of their top five US and UK university choices.
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