The college admissions process can feel like a complete and total mystery… unless you’ve been on both sides of it! That’s why we are so thankful to have Christina, our College Admissions Specialist, on our Enrichery team. After graduating from UT Austin with degrees in Spanish and Public Relations, Christina worked in the UT Austin Admissions Office where she read and scored thousands of applications. That’s right – she knows exactly what schools are looking for (and she’s here to help you deliver exactly that)!
After leaving UT Austin, Christina pursued her passion for higher education as a Study Abroad Advisor at Loyola Marymount University in L.A., and then earned her Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration. This week, she’s sharing her expertise and answering five of your burning questions about the admissions process!
As an admissions counselor, what are you looking for when you’re reading a student’s essay?
When I’m reading a student’s essay, I want them to tell me a story and really paint a picture of who they are. What’s something I can learn about you in your essay that I could never read on your transcript or resume? It’s amazing when you can get a beautifully written essay or personal statement because it shows us who YOU are and really makes you stand out!
What are your top 3 quick tips on making your application stand out?
Write a GREAT essay (or essays), put a lot of effort into your resume, and submit everything EARLY (submitting by the deadline is cutting it too close!) Give yourself time to have wiggle room in case of errors.
What should be the main priority junior year?
Colleges look at all four years of high school to make a decision about a student’s academic rigor and extracurricular activities, but Junior year is really your time to shine. You might have an officer position in a club or organization by now; perhaps you’ve gained entry to an honor society or received an academic award. In your junior year you likely have the opportunity to take some electives that you might consider for your future career. And academically, you still must challenge yourself to take classes that will prepare you for college, too. Don’t think you can skate through senior year–set high goals for yourself in your junior year and let them carry over with you to graduation!
How important are extracurricular activities – like playing on a sports team, being a member of a club, and community involvement – in the admissions process? Is one better than the other?
Colleges like to see that students can take on responsibility outside of the classroom. Playing a sport, volunteering, getting involved in drama or yearbook–these are all things that take time, dedication, and skill on top of a student’s busy schedule. Don’t ever do something just because it’s a resume booster, though. Find something you’re passionate about and stick with it! Freshman year of high school is a great time to dip a toe in a lot of different puddles to see which activities you like. Tried lacrosse and found it wasn’t for you? No sweat! See if another sport is accepting new team members. Joined Spanish Club but realized that German has truly captured your heart? Say adios to Spanish and hallo to German Club! What’s important is longevity. Colleges like to see quality over quantity. If you’ve spent four years in one club and climbed the ranks through officer positions, this will look better than joining 5 clubs and only modestly participating in each one.
What is the biggest college admissions lesson you have learned in your experience working on admissions teams?
Students must know that there’s no secret loophole to getting into their favorite college or university. The one guarantee about college admissions is that you need to have an incredible, well rounded application to be competitive. Students can do this by preparing for college early in their high school career. We’ve all seen the students who realize in second semester junior year that college applications will be submitted in no time and try to clean up their act too late. In reality, with plenty of planning and thoughtfulness their best bet will be to submit a college application they can be truly proud of.
Luckily, this is just a peek into Christina’s insight – and students who enroll in our 2021 College Admissions Workshop this summer will get the full scoop! At our workshop, our team of expert coaches will help you solidify your college list, create your resume, write your essays and supplements, and submit all of your college applications. Better yet? You can secure 2020 college admissions workshop prices by signing up before December 31st!