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The #1, Absolutely Most Important Thing to Consider When You Apply to School

There is one thing you must think about as you work on your college applications - and it's not whether your GPA is sufficient, your test scores are up to snuff, or your activities are good enough to impress an admissions officer.

The Key

The most important thing to consider as you prepare your application is that it isn't going to some nameless, faceless automaton; your application destined for the desk of an actual human being (and, most of the time, will be reviewed by at least two people - sometimes by a committee).

So, why is that the most important thing to consider?

The numbers are important, sure, but people are not calculators. People respond to stories. Your job, then, is to make your story interesting.

Job one, as you review your applications is to make sure each one you send reflects the interesting individual you are. This sounds like simplistic advice, but consider this question: Does your application interest you? Or, is it a collection of statistics plus an essay?

Does your application interest you? Or, is it a collection of statistics plus an essay or two?

Solicit help if you're unsure how to take your application from bland to grand, but make sure you don't rush through, giving it the short shrift. If you're asked a question like "Who is your role model?", and you're afforded 100 characters for your answer, make sure you don't offer a response like "My grandpa". If your grandpa is your hero, capture at least some semblance of why he is so important to you. Tell that story - a micro version of it, at least.

Picture those human beings on the other side of you application - the people who will actually read each one of your answers. If they read an answer like "My grandpa", what have they learned about you? How would they be able to advocate for you? Most importantly, why would they care whether you attend their university? As Ethan Sawyer puts it, "Consider that each of your short answers, no matter how short, is a tiny window into your soul."

You have dozens of opportunities to add color and to tell the readers a little more about you - in a way that makes the people on the other side of the application actually like you. Tell your story... and make it interesting.

- Randy Biggs

Owner, Heritage College Prep

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