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How to Make Your College Application Stand Out

Millions of applications are submitted to colleges every year. If you are a high school senior and have just gone through the admissions process, you know what it’s like. For high school juniors, or those applying for transfer, it can be overwhelming. I have five tips on how to stand out in a large pool of students.

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1. Get your name down

When you are attending local college fairs, high school visits, or regional events, always make sure that you sign your name on any attendance forms or email list. This is not only to make sure that you get up-to-date information from the college you are applying to, but it also demonstrates how interested you are in the institution. See where Rochester is visiting soon.

2. Interview (if available)

Nothing helps more than giving the admissions office a look at the person behind the application. Making the time and commitment to meet with an admissions counselor lets the college you are applying to know that you are very serious about how much you want to attend their college. An interview allows for you to tell your story and give more context to your application and college essay.

If you can’t get on campus for an interview, many colleges offer Skype or phone options. And if an interview isn’t a part of a school’s admissions process, visit them when they come to your high school or a nearby college fair. They’ll love to meet you! Learn about interviewing at Rochester.

3. Submit optional materials

In addition to the standard essay, many colleges allow applicants the opportunity to submit additional materials like resumes, art, portfolios, and/or additional supplement essays. While it may feel tedious to have to include information that you already may have listed in other points of your application, submitting these optional materials can be very beneficial to your application. Colleges would not offer the opportunity for students to send in additional information if they were not interested in reading/viewing it. Think about the supplement prompts and try to understand what the school actually cares about. See what application materials Rochester requires and recommends.

4. Apply Early Action or Early Decision

While not all schools offer these application options, if your first choice allows students to apply earlier, you should. While applying EA or ED does not guarantee admission, it shows the college that you are serious about attending their school. In addition, applying early also makes you more competitive for scholarship awards. However, it is important that while applying, you are aware that ED is binding, which means if you are accepted then you must attend that school. Learn about Rochester’s Early Decision process.

5. Attend pre-college or summer programs

Participating in a college’s pre-college program or high school program also does not guarantee admission, but it does show your interest in the school. When you do a college’s program, it lets the college know that you have been to the college and are familiar with the learning environment. Staying at a college really lets you know what your life would be like as a student at that institution. By applying to that same college, you let the colleges know that you enjoyed your experience and want more of what that school has to offer. Learn more about Rochester’s Pre-College Programs!


Whether you apply to the University of Rochester or any other institution, I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors. Good luck!

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