When it comes to college and university applications, it’s not always just about one’s grades. Depending on the program you are applying to, supplemental materials such as information about volunteer work and extracurricular activities you have been involved in, as well as essays or a “statement of intent” may be required. This additional information you provide can help make your application stand out from the crowd, so definitely take it seriously. Don’t forget to make sure you thoroughly research the programs you are most interested in and submit all of your applications ahead of their deadlines.
Here are some suggestions on how you can support a competitive post-secondary application.
High school provides many opportunities to gain new experiences. Consider trying extracurricular activities and sports you haven’t considered in the past. You will learn more about your interests and strengths through some trial and error. Consider running for student council, taking up a certain sport or registering for a specific course in the arts, like visual art. Consider giving back to your school community as well. For example, you could volunteer to help out different school clubs or even local non-profit organizations. All of these opportunities will give you new skill sets that you can write about on post-secondary applications. Demonstrating that you have a range of different interests can set you apart and demonstrate that you will be an asset to the school you are applying to.
Many universities find students with leadership skills and activism work experience attractive. It demonstrates that the student is a self-starter, takes initiative, can work independently and wants to make a difference in their community. Could that be you? Find out by getting involved in volunteer work, clubs and groups where you can take a stab at a leadership role. It doesn’t have to be a huge commitment off the bat. Simply offer to be a leader or part of the leadership team for a small-scale, short-term initiative, event or task. You might discover the leader within!
Not every high school student can juggle a part-time job with their studies, however, if you think you can manage a few hours per week, you can gain invaluable skills from just about any position—from retail to a restaurant, to a yoga studio. Having paid work experience on your profile shows that you are responsible, committed and eager to learn new skills. You will benefit from customer service skills, money management skills, and so much more. If working during the school year is too difficult for you, consider working at a camp or doing dog walking in the summer. Don’t discount any paid work experience, including babysitting. Plus, your work might lead you into entrepreneurship.
Where applicable, on your post-secondary applications, write about what you have learned in your work, volunteer and extracurricular experiences throughout high school. Admissions staff want to get a picture of the skills potential candidates can bring to the school community. You can write endless lists about your accomplishments, however, if you can’t address what makes your experiences relevant, then your documentation might get overlooked. For example, explain why and how working at summer camps has fostered your interest in working with children. Talk about how you have developed patience and empathy through your customer service work. And explain how working with individuals in need at the local food bank has ignited a spark in activism. Above all, be honest and true to yourself when you write about the story of who you are and where you’d like to go with respect to your education. Your story matters and it can take you to exciting places.