You may not be applying to college for another few years, but it is never too early to start preparing your resume. While every college is different, there are certain trends in what admissions counselors typically look for in applicants. As a test prep institution, it is our mission to help students succeed academically. We uncover the mystery of four common concerns that students have during the college application process.

filling out an online college applicationAP Classes

If your high school offers 16 Advanced Placement courses, don’t feel that you have to take every one of them. Quality trumps quantity in this scenario. Chances are, you have a weakness in at least one subject. Don’t force yourself to struggle through AP Chemistry if your true strengths lie in English and History.

Extracurricular Activities

Students who do not excel in sports or lack the time to join school clubs because of a part-time job can stop worrying. Many college admissions counselors prefer applicants to focus on their passions rather than piling on activities for the sake of it. The student who is the president of his or her class for all four years of high school shows long-term commitment and leadership skills, as opposed to the student who lists 20 activities.

Community Service

College admissions counselors interviewed by U.S. News said they look for service ethic: an exemplified, continuous commitment to service. If you help clean up a local park one weekend for the sole purpose of listing it on your college application, do not expect that to make or break your chances of admission. However, if you volunteer at a soup kitchen every weekend and others can speak to your devotion and enjoyment, you have service ethic.

The College Essay

The purpose of your essay is to show colleges what you could add to their community. It should be specifically tailored to the school you’re applying to and taken very seriously. A generic essay can easily be spotted by admissions counselors. Instead of waiting until the last minute, write several drafts on different topics and really try to sell yourself honestly.

The major takeaway here is that admissions counselors don’t want you to reinvent yourself for the sake of being the perfect college applicant; there’s no set mold! Be truthful, take your time with each application and try to narrow the choices down.

Another important part of the college admissions process is your test scores. To help improve your SAT or ACT results, contact Ivy Bound to learn more about test prep.