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Why Your Application Needs To Stand Out

Each year the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) puts out a report called, The State Of College Admission. The report is free for NACAC members while non-members can purchase a copy for $25. The report talks about trends in college admission as reported by college admission officers and high school counselors from around the country. One of the statistics from this year’s report that I wanted to share with you today was the average number of applications that each admission counselor reads.

According to the report, the average college admission counselor in 2005 read 359 applications. By 2011 that number had nearly doubled to 662.

Think about that for a second. You are one of nearly several hundred applications that will cross an admission counselor’s desk in a very short period of time. Having reviewed thousands of applications in my old admission days, I can tell you that admission counselors do their best to give each application the time and attention it deserves. But when your application underwhelms or does not tell your story in full color, well, that review and the decision to say “no” can be painfully quick. Admission counselors want to connect with you as an applicant. They want to get excited about you. And they want to say “yes.” But sometimes it becomes very hard for them to do just that simply because you didn’t make the most of your application.

So, instead of putting off your college search to the last minute, start researching schools now and then visit some college campuses this spring. Think about what you might want to say in your personal statement and then record your ideas for when you get down to the writing process over the summer. Think about who you would want a recommendation from and plan on talking to them before the end of the school year. Create an account on the Common App and go through each section to familiarize yourself with how it works and what information is required. This will be great practice for when the new one launches on August 1st. Start a list of your activities, honors and accomplishments – great or small, so that you don’t forget anything when it comes time to completing applications in the fall.

At the end of the day, ask yourself what you want an admission counselor to know about you and why it should matter to them. Then, as you go through the next several months, spend time putting together an application and supporting materials that ensure your application will be one that motivates an admission counselor to say, “YES!”

Have something to say? Use the comment box below or email me at If you think this makes a lot of sense, consider sharing it with someone you know.

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