How can Students Master the Art of Application Writing?

Updated: Jun 10, 2019


Sabrina Dostie


At this very moment, thousands of students in the world are completing and perfecting their college applications. A lot of them hope to be able to get into the top universities and colleges. However, let’s be honest, the university admission process has become increasingly competitive in recent years and so, despite outstanding academic performances, it is still really hard for students to secure a spot at an elite college.


HOW CAN STUDENTS MASTER THE ART OF APPLICATION WRITING?

It is essential for students to understand that College Admission Officers read thousands of applications every year and so they can’t and won’t spend more than 10 minutes per applicant. College Admission Officers usually spend an average of five minutes per application. They need to maximize their time and find the right candidates fast without having to dig too much into each application. Therefore, students need to think about their personal USP (Unique Selling Point) and highlight it in their personal statement for example. The objective is to be as concise as possible so the applicant’s character and personality get emphasized in the first 10-15 seconds of reading.


We often hear the term USP in marketing but how about connecting USP to college applications? Does that sound odd to you? If yes, you might want to review the way you write your college application. Marketing and college applications make perfect sense when put together, as applying for universities requires being able to market yourself. Students need to pinpoint their USP and make sure they explicitly and succinctly tell who they really are and what makes them different from the other 50,000 people applying to the same program.


Your USP should not be what makes you better than your peers but should instead lean toward what makes you absolutely UNIQUE! Nowadays, everyone does volunteer work. How do you differentiate yourself from the three million other students that also do community service? How do you connect your time spent volunteering, in the same organization as your classmates, with your own story? How do you apply the knowledge you have learned and the personal growth you have made from those community service activities into your story and future desired path? You need to do some soul-searching to determine what distinguishes you from others. The image you portray of yourself needs to be backed with clear examples. Think through your most powerful memories and communicate your story by making sure to answer the “what makes you who you are?” type of question.


WHAT DO COLLEGE ADMISSION OFFICERS REALLY WANT TO SEE?

Admission Officers want to know the real you, they want to see your true colors, they want to know if you will add to the campus community of their university, they want to evaluate your communication skills (so make sure to avoid any mistakes), they want to know how you currently contribute to your community, etc. But wait, don’t think there is a specific student profile for each university because there isn’t! Admission Officers want diversity among people they select. So, make sure to be authentic and package yourself as who you are and not as what you think they want. Make your story memorable, but remember to keep it clear and simple. As Roger Russell would say, your personal statement “is not an exercise of creative writing”.


Surprise your reader so he/she remembers reading your personal statement and feels like giving you an acceptance letter in the first 30 seconds of reading your application! Let your personality transcend your writing. If you are a funny person, compose a funny essay. If you depict yourself as an energetic person well, let people understand and feel it as they read your essay.


FEW MORE TIPS!

We live in a world where everything happens fast. Technology has changed our lives in various ways. We are accustomed to everything being just a click away. What do I mean by that? I mean that you have to try making your story go viral, the same way you want your post on WeChat, Weibo or Instagram to get noticed and shared by your friends.

I know you’ve probably heard this many times for your college applications, but remember to demonstrate how the extracurricular activities you took part in during your high school experience will help you accomplish your goals and help you make your dreams come true.


To summarize: know your USP, be bold, BE YOU, be memorable, transform YOUR story into something that could go viral, be clear and remember to communicate your purpose in a way that reflects your personality.


To know more about college applications, reach out to Dalton Counselors! They will be more than happy to help you with your college applications.

Haidian District, Beijing Huangzhuang, Beijing, China  (Zip code: 100190)

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©2019 by The Affiliated High School of Peking University's Dalton Academy