The college application process has seen quite a few changes, and what matters now more than ever, is knowing how to make applications work to your advantage.
The loudest chatter seems to center around the schools no longer requiring ACT or SAT scores. It’s important to note that some schools are still requiring ACTS and SATS. Before you jump with joy, make sure the colleges you’re applying to aren’t requiring test scores.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s talk strategy.
If you’re reading this, then you’re definitely already putting thought into your college application. You want it to stand out. And most importantly, you want it to get you an acceptance letter.
Without ACT and SAT test scores, you’re going to need to put in extra work to make sure you rise above the competition.
How To Get Your Application To Stand Out Without ACT & SAT Test Scores
If you’re in the group of people foregoing the SATs and ACTs, make sure your application is shining in other ways. Because, without these test scores, the rest of your application needs to hold a lot of weight.
1. Acknowledge The Extra Time You’ve Given Yourself And Use It
With ACTS and SATS being optional for many schools, you may have opened up your schedule a bit. Before you start relaxing on the couch, consider what you can do with that extra time.
Sure, maybe you can fit in a movie. But make sure that doesn’t turn into a Netflix marathon.
Instead, think about those things you’ve always dreamed of doing. Maybe learning a new craft, training for a marathon, or submitting poetry to publishers are on your bucket list. Not that there’s ever a wrong time to try something new, but with an opening in your schedule, now might be the perfect time to pursue these goals.
Or, consider helping your community. Think about the things you care about. There are animal shelters that need volunteers to help socialize animals. Elderly neighbors may need help with yard work.
And the best part, putting this time to good use will only help to bolster your resume.
2. Beef Up Your Transcript
Without SAT and ACT scores, your transcript is the only quantitative demonstration of your academic ability.
Be sure to keep senioritis at bay by keeping yourself motivated. While you don’t want to overwhelm yourself, you should still be sure to take classes you find interesting and challenging.
Of course, your GPA will be taken into consideration, so add to your challenging schedule within reason. You don’t want to shoot for the stars and end up dragging your GPA down with C’s and D’s from overextending yourself.
When choosing which classes to schedule, talk to your Bright Futures college counselor. After all, that’s one of the things we’re here for! Our team of expert consultants can help you tailor your resume to ensure you have the best application possible.
Also, keep in mind that while an SAT score showcases your ability on one specific day, your transcript demonstrates years of effort and outcomes.
3. Demonstrate Interest To Your Preferred College
Have your sights set on a particular college?
Let them know!
And not just by liking and sharing their social media posts. We’re talking about demonstrating interest in a way that will get you noticed.
Go ahead and book a meeting with an admissions counselor, write letters, attend events, rub shoulders, and make connections. As a high school student, this may seem a little tricky. But this is a skill that will be invaluable for the rest of your life.
And when done properly, demonstrating interest can make a strong application even stronger. And for slightly less impressive applications, you may end up outshining the very best.
From reaching out to faculty to applying early or just connecting with the college online, we’ve got it all outlined for you. Check out our blog How To Demonstrate Interest To A University & Land Yourself An Acceptance Letter.
The best part, colleges keep track of the ways you demonstrate interest. Many times, that information is used when deciding who gets acceptance letters.
4. Use Brag Sheets To Lock In Strong Recommendation Letters
Letters of recommendation can really help your application stand out. But, there is a process to perfection.
First, consider any alumni that you could possibly ask for a recommendation. Does that seem weird? Well, asking for these recommendation letters might always feel a little awkward. But it’s something we all must do, and it’s better to get it over with so you can move a step closer to your bright future.
In addition to alumni of your preferred college, also ask your teachers, coaches, and mentors for letters of recommendation. Once they agree, supply them with your “brag sheet.” This is something you will write about yourself, highlighting your strengths and giving more insight into who you are. List those activities. Make sure they are aware of the time you spend helping others. Learn more from our blog Utilizing Brag Sheets To Get Your Letters Of Recommendations Done.
Whatever you do, don’t be shy and hold back. A brag sheet may be the key to you receiving stellar recommendation letters that will open up doors to your bright future.
5. Consider Your Extracurricular Activities
When you’re not in class or at your after-school job, how are you spending your time?
It might surprise you to learn that what may seem like a silly hobby or just a family obligation can pull some serious weight. For instance, we once had a student client that just happened to mention that he helps care for his elderly grandfather. And when we say “help,” we mean on the family rotation committing serious hours every week.
While this student didn’t think much of what he considered an obligation and was more than happy to do, it sure lit a lightbulb in his counselor’s brain. It was worked into his resume and really helped him stand out amongst his peers.
However, if you don’t have family obligations, you can still keep yourself busy. Whether you want to join a club, play a sport, or volunteer, all of these activities will be beneficial to your application.
Need help with the college application process? You’re in the right place. Reach out to Bright Futures for a complimentary consultation.
6. Research Your Prospective Colleges
Before you start on your application, do a deep dive into what the college puts out into the world. Scour their website and social media to be in the loop on their latest news and announcements.
Furthermore, read and understand the college’s mission statement, philosophies, programs, classes, and clubs. While not everything will top your list of priorities, you’re sure to feel a connection with some of the things. And if you don’t, maybe consider why you’re applying to that school.
This is an opportunity to help your application shine. But it’s also a chance to make sure you’re not selling yourself short. Research all the schools that you find interesting. If they are far from home or might seem out of your price range, talk to your parents and research scholarships. It might surprise you to learn the amount of money some schools have and are just waiting for applicants to request.
But the most important part of the research is to tie it into your application and essays when appropriate. Showcasing your interest in the college while weaving in how their school will help you achieve your goals will surely help you stand out.
7. Submit ALL Optional Materials
With ACTs and SATs no longer a concern (if your ideal school is not requiring them), make sure you’re submitting everything else. Yes, even the optional materials.
When it comes to college applications — the word optional means mandatory.
Moreover, if this is the school you really want to attend, why wouldn’t you do everything possible to get accepted?
So schedule that interview. Be sure to read How To SHINE: Top Tips To Ace Your College Interviews. Then prepare your heart out and pat yourself on the back when you shine. If there’s an optional essay, you best bet we’re going to tell you to answer it with a well-thought-out response. Room for more letters of recommendation? Hit the pavement and find someone to write it. Of course, supply them with your brag sheet for great results.
All in all, go the extra mile to prove how well you’ll fit in with the school. Of course, keep within the school’s parameters. You don’t want to be aggravating or annoying.
You’re almost at the finish line. Leave no stone unturned. If there is something you can do to stand out among other applicants, do it. This is your time and your bright future awaits!
Ready To Shine Your Light On Your Bright Future?
Our team of expert college counselors are here to help you unlock your potential. If there is a school that you feel is a pipe dream, we’re just the people to help you decide if it’s the right fit for you.
Sometimes students set their sights on a school without really understanding why. Through our process, we can help navigate you to the schools where you will feel most fulfilled. Where you will thrive and truly see the bright future that is waiting for you.