How To Become A Stronger Applicant

Grace Kim
Edited by Angela Lapuz
Published on
July 28, 2023

Getting into a prestigious college is more than just having the highest grades and scores. Your performances on other criterias, in fact, have a significant impact on you being admitted. This blog will inform you on various aspects of the college applications that you should focus on to become a stronger applicant. Evidently, acceptance rates have decreased with time; this is why it is critical to begin working on your portfolio in order to compete with the strong competition. 

  1. Emphasizing meaningful extracurriculars

Make a quick list of your extracurricular activities. If you're feeling a lack of activities, this is your cue to start stacking them right now! It's never too late to start no matter what grade you're in. However, starting early allows you to plan for the future and reduce your stress. For example, you can devote more time to your AP, IB, or honors classes, the SAT, and college prep without having to consider joining new groups and programs. Also, colleges do not want 10 activities that demonstrate a lack of dedication and interest; instead, you should focus on finding clubs and activities that you enjoy in order to show your commitment and interest. Let’s say that you want to pursue the medical field. To do that, you can volunteer at hospitals, participate in research projects, or even apply for high school medical programs offered by hospitals or other organizations. 

  1. Show interest in your college

Two effective methods of expressing your interest in the college of your choice is by attending their program and connecting with alumni. Many colleges have summer programs, some of which cover the entire cost. You might also reach out to current students or alumni who have formed their own programs or startups and ask to volunteer under them. This way, you may learn more about the school and potentially request a letter from them to submit to your school. I would recommend using LinkedIn or simply a Google search to uncover these chances; but you must understand that getting a job like this might be tough. 

  1. Get guidance on the college application process

This is mainly for incoming seniors and juniors to consider. Applying to organizations that help with the college process is one method to get ready for the upcoming college applications. These programs pair students with college students from prestigious institutions (Ivy, T-20, etc.). These programs are valuable to me since they connect you with the best fit undergraduate student depending on your application. They also provide a schedule so that you can do your tasks per section. For example, you could spend the first several weeks working on your college list before beginning your college essay drafts. I 100% recommend applying to these programs. If you are interested, you can apply to the programs listed below. You may also simply use your search engine for additional programs similar to this. 

ScholarMatch Student Application: Destination College - BigFuture (

Matriculate – Matriculate 

  1. Recommendation letters 

In recent years, the recommendation letter has become an essential component of the application. Thus, it's very critical to understand the type of letter you should seek. The recommendation letter should ideally come from a subject course teacher (English, History, Science, Math, and LOTE). It is highly advised. especially if you are heading into the STEM field, to obtain letters from essential topics like Math and Science. If you are closer with a non-core topic course teacher, you should ask them, because the recommender you choose should know you well. Remember, if you're worried about not having a personal connection with an instructor, you can always start now! Raise your hand more often. Ask questions. Go to their extra help. Message them if you need anything. 

  1. Writing your College Essay

Along with recommendation letters, the college essay is a VERY IMPORTANT component of your application. There is a need for more dedication in your essay because it is the one thing on your application that displays who you are as a person beyond your grades and extracurriculars. If you are a rising senior, you should begin brainstorming essay ideas so that you can begin preparing your essays before the start of school. It can be difficult to come up with ideas on the spot, so what I recomendable doing is to open the notes app and begin recording hobbies, daily routines, and memories. One piece of advice I received was to prioritize your writing skills over the topic. This simply means to not obsess over finding the perfect topic because it’s the way you write whatever idea you come up with. So, this is why finding your writing style is important. After you've written a few essays, I'd recommend sharing them with other advisers, teachers, and peers for feedback. 

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