What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

How Can I Make My College Applications Stand Out?

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College admissions today are more competitive than ever, so it’s crucial to break apart from the pack in order to make yourself stand out. There are a number of ways to do this in the most genuine yet effective manner.



Craft an Overall Narrative

Strong narratives are what separate great from exceptional college applications. Taking the time to tell a captivating, enlightening story about who you are can be crucial to the success of your application.


Without them even knowing, you give admissions officers the opportunity to pick up on key aspects of your personality and how you would fit into their campus just by ensuring that a relevant central theme is maintained throughout. Compared to other applications, yours will simply make more sense.


However, it is important to never come right out and directly specify this story, but rather weave it into every aspect of the application. From the letters of recommendation to the essays themselves, keep this theme central to all of its components.

Convey Sincere, Genuine Interest

Admissions officers have a keen eye for spotting disingenuous aspects of an application and can tell when someone just says things to look better. Taking the time and energy to discover the reasons why you want to apply to a certain school is extremely important. If you find that sincere reasons come right out, then that is a sign that the school could fit you well, and you should articulate these reasons throughout your application.


However, if you are hard-pressed to find unselfish reasons and instead can only think of things such as “it is a very prestigious school” or “attending here will increase my odds of future success”, then you should take some more time to explore how this school could fit your personality, goals, and interests. If after research you cannot find something, it may be wise to not apply there altogether. Ultimately, it is better to attend a school for the right reasons rather than for only prestige.



Pay Close Attention to the Details

Details are everything, especially with a college application. Make sure the overarching theme and narrative speak loudly throughout every aspect of your application.That is how admissions officers will learn about you, but more importantly, discover how and why you are a perfect fit for their school.


Also, make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors and that your work is the best it can be. Triple and quadruple check your entire application, and even have family members take a look to find errors or to provide insights you had not considered. Many heads are better than one!



Add Humor

Showing a likable personality can go a long way. Humor conveys that you possess an open personality, and by using humor, you convey to admissions officers who you are even more so than other applicants do. And, you are doing so in a way that has the ability to brighten someone’s day.


As objective as admissions officers are supposed to be, everyone is subject to periods of good and bad moods. You never know how someone’s mood on a given day could impact the way they evaluate and consider your application. If a bit of humor hits a high note with someone, then all the better for you. If your overall application is strong, humor has the ability to give someone that extra nudge necessary to accept you.


However, be smart about it. Do not include anything that will not add positively to your admissions profile. And certainly refrain from including anything crude, racist, and inappropriate in any way.


For more tips for applying to college, please feel free to check out the following articles from our blog:


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Ask Yourself These 6 Questions Before Deciding on a College


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Short Bio
Ryan Kelleher is a graduate of Cornell University's Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, specializing in finance. After stints in management consulting in New York City and teaching English internationally, Ryan joined CollegeVine as a Program Manager in the Mentorship Division. Ryan is an avid traveler, filmmaker and creative writer who thrives on seeking out new and challenging experiences.