This year alone, well over 3 million seniors will graduate from high school in the United States. It can be assumed that any of those eager seniors will send out multiple applications. When you combine that assumption with the declining college acceptance rates, the competition is rigorous as if you were in a sports tournament.

So, how do you stand out from the crowd? Just be YOU!

Yes, that is such a cliché, but it’s true. Hence, why it has become the catchphrase of practically every guidance counselor, college readiness course, and admissions consultant. You’re a unicorn. You’re meant to expand and shine your light for all to see, not put yourself in a box or group.

How do you distill all the great things that make you unique into a college application?

Show, don’t tell

Every experience you’ve had and every decision you’ve made up until now has helped to shape you into the person you are today. Are you a strong leader? Are you highly adaptable? Do you have a rock-solid work ethic? Great! Don’t just list off your shining qualities in your college essay, show the admissions board through experiences that demonstrate those characteristics.

As you tell your story, don’t forget about cultural and ethnic diversity. How you grew up, your heritage, your neighborhood, and your nationality – all of these play a huge role in who you are, where you’re going, and how you view the world. 

Don’t join every extracurricular in school

When differentiating yourself from the crowd, extracurriculars always seem to be the first go-to, but there’s more to it (and you) than that. As the educational space becomes more and more competitive, colleges are looking beyond exhaustive laundry lists of afterschool clubs in favor of real passion and excellence. What do you love to do? What makes you happy? What drives you? Colleges and universities value commitment and passion. They’d rather see you excel in a few things than be mediocre at many things.

Let your accomplishments shine through

Now is not the time to be shy! Pull out your portfolio and play up any awards you’ve received over the years. Accomplishments can include trophies, awards or scholarships but it can also include starting a new club or program or even starting your own business.

Don’t discount non-school activities

In-school activities aren’t the only way to get attention on your application. Philanthropy, sports leagues, advocacy groups, or religious groups are all examples of non-school activities that colleges love to hear about.

Writing about yourself can be the hardest topic to write about. It doesn’t matter if you are an award-winning writer or if you have a ton of self-confidence, even the best of us can have a difficult time writing about ourselves. You may feel like there’s nothing special or different about you from the next candidate, but you are unique! 

Don’t just go through the motions when you fill out your college application; let your personality shine. Need help taking your application from stuffy to spectacular? Our admissions essay experts are standing by to help you unleash your greatness!