Students planning their post-secondary education are asking: What’s the secret to making a university application stand out? While there isn’t one proven way to guarantee acceptance, there are strategies that can help students land on top of the admissions pile. The Globe and Mail’s University Report Card (www.globeandmail.com/education) offers insights from admissions officers from universities across Canada about what they’re really looking for.
Here are the top strategies to turn the spotlight on what the student has to offer:
- Pay attention to deadlines. Missed deadlines are the most common pitfall for applicants and can cause the university to withdraw its offer. Double check the requirements for your program of interest and mark important dates and deadlines in your calendar. Meeting deadlines can make your application stand out because it demonstrates that you are serious about getting into the program.
- Tailor the application to the faculty of choice. Include additional materials that may be relevant to your field. For example, if applying to a journalism program, submit a writing sample published in the high school newspaper. But don’t overwhelm the admissions department with too many examples — keep it concise.
- Focus on extracurriculars and highlight leadership skills. Schools are keen on students with a range of interests who are eager to take initiative and be involved in campus life and the community. Participation in a club or a team shows dedication, an essential quality at the university level. Evidence of leadership is one of the key attributes the admissions office looks for in a student.
- Explain what your achievements mean to you. Admissions officers want to get a sense of who you are. Explaining how and why each of your accomplishments was important to you demonstrates maturity and self-reflection and helps your application stand out.
- Never give up — persistence is key. Admissions officers encourage students to follow up if they haven’t heard anything about their application in a while. In some cases, it could be as simple as an application being misplaced. By calling the admissions office, the student also shows a keen interest in the school and a dedication to pursuing their goals.