How to Stand Out on Your College Application

By Sarah Bonti

Applying to college can be daunting. The number one question I always get is “how do I set myself apart from my peers?” With hundreds of thousands of seniors applying to college each year, this is n excellent question to ask yourself! I tell students: GREAT!

1. Google

Google yourself and check your social media platforms. Do you see a tweet or photo that you would feel embarrassed if your parent(s) saw? Take it down! Managing your online presence is important because you don’t want college admissions seeing something that you tweeted or posted that doesn’t align with their mission.

2. Recommendations

Carefully consider who you ask to write your letters of recommendation. I always suggest that students ask a teacher who has known them for a while or who has taught them multiple classes. This is helpful because the teachers can speak to the student’s growth and the obstacles you may have overcome.

3. Extracurriculars

Between sports, clubs, community service, summer programs, and work, choosing what to participate in can be a bit overwhelming. When picking extracurriculars, it’s about quality over quantity. Demonstrating your passion and commitment for two to three activities related to your interests is better than including a lengthy list of activities that you may have only participated in a few times. Colleges also like to see demonstrated leadership, so sticking with one club or sport and growing/gaining leadership experience will serve you well.

4. Academics

Colleges are looking for applicants who have not only done well but have also challenged themselves academically. Colleges would prefer to see students challenge themselves by taking honors or AP and receive a “B” than stay in a standard level course and receive an “A.” College admissions also consider the level of rigor available at your school. For example, if your school does not offer AP courses, colleges will not hold this against you.

5. Testing

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges have moved away from standardized tests. In fact, you can always look at which colleges are test-optional by visiting fairtest.org (pro tip: bookmark it on your computer!). If testing is not your strong suit, there are plenty of schools that are test-optional!

If you want support with your college application or any part of the college planning process, you can work with me or another Fusion Post-Secondary Counselor for personalized recommendations. We’re also offering College Admissions Camps this summer, including Extracurriculars and Resume Building, an Introduction to College and Post-Secondary Counseling, and more. Click here to learn more and sign up.

About the Author

Sarah Bonti is Fusion Academy Fairfield’s Post-Secondary Counselor, providing individual guidance and support for each student’s future planning whether it is continuing their education or following their other dreams.  She also teaches life skills classes.  She received a Bachelor of Arts in Education and Psychology from Denison University and a Master’s of Science in School Counseling from Southern Connecticut State University.  Sarah taught at Adam J. Lewis Academy in Bridgeport for 3 years and also interned at Norwalk High School for one year to gain more school counseling experience.  One of Sarah’s favorite experiences thus far has been studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark where she student taught for 5 months.  During her free time, Sarah enjoys spending time with family, friends, and her golden retriever puppy named Osi.

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