Be Varsity: College application hacks that can help you get accepted
Most student-athletes who are aiming to get recruited and compete for a college roster spot are hyper-focused on improving their athletic skills to grab a college coach’s attention. However, all that effort may not help much if you can’t get accepted into the college you’re targeting. Yes, college coaches do tend to have a bit of influence on the admissions department, but this varies a lot by school and program. At many sports programs, if you can’t get admitted to the school based on your academic merits, your athletic background and the coach won’t do much to help.
That’s why it’s not only important to keep up your grades and study up for standardized tests but to also put effort into the college application process. You should research colleges and create a list of targets, reach and safety schools to start. But you should also realize that there is an element of strategy to college applications. If you approach them the right way, you should be able to boost your chances of getting accepted. Read on to find out how.
Get creative with your admission essay
Writing a college admission essay can be intimidating. As a college applicant, you have a lot riding on the line, especially if you’re applying to your dream school. Your instinct may be to play it safe and write a standard essay about a topic that will play well with the college admissions staff and avoid something that may seem weird or sophomoric.
But in fact, it may be creativity that increases college admission rates. Of course, creativity is subjective, so this really comes down to a few factors. First, college admissions professionals wade through giant stacks of essays, many of which are boring, typical and forgettable. Whoever ends up reading your essay, your goal is to grab this person’s attention. And another “sports = life” essay probably won’t cut it. Try picking a topic that isn’t what 5,000 other applicants are writing about. But do write about something that matters to you. Expressing interest will help you pop off the page.
Additionally, a study of 50,000 essays suggests that “most colleges are more interested in writing about the world of ideas and things than in personal narratives” and admissions officers “are looking for people who can put their own history in a broader context.” This includes writing that categorizes things and connects ideas with concepts — and not just personal narratives.
And if you think your chance of getting in is a longshot, maybe it’s time to write something that will blow someone’s mind. After all, what do you have to lose? It’s a perfect chance to throw a Hail Mary.
Applying early can boost your chances
Some admission experts argue that applying early during the early action period boosts your chances of getting in at certain schools. Some also say that this is a result of stronger candidates applying early, but CollegeVine argues that “data shows that applicants across the board have a higher chance of gaining acceptance when they apply through early decision, even when differences in candidate strength are accounted for.” U.S. News & World Report also shares data showing that some schools have high early admissions rates compared to regular admission, sometimes admitting applicants at twice the rate as during the regular decision period. One bonus of applying early: you’ll get your decision back earlier and will know if you need to apply to more colleges.
Use the Common Application to save time
Currently, 872 colleges use the Common Application (also known as the Common App) and it can help you save a lot of time throughout the application process. You can fill out general information like GPA and your extracurricular activates and use the Common App to apply to multiple schools instead of filling out this information each time. This is especially helpful because you’re able to submit the same admission essay to many colleges. The Common App is also free to use — though every college charge their own application processing fee.
Apply with a specific major to improve odds
At some colleges, admissions requirements are standard across the board, regardless of what school you’re applying to. However, some colleges have varying admission standards among their different schools. For example, it can be easier to get admitted to the College of Arts and Sciences than it is to the College of Engineering. This can potentially offer you an easier path to getting admitted, though some colleges also have stricter standards for transferring between schools than others. Your best bet? Do your research ahead of time and if you feel like you may have slim chances of getting into a reach school, this may be a strategy worth trying out.