5 Tips to Help You Stand Out Amongst 50,000 other US University ApplicantsHealth Beauty | 22 Apr 2021
Meet the Academic Requirements
When you hand in your application as one of the 50,000 applicants at a US university, the first thing the admission officer looks at is whether your school grades, GPA (grade point average) IB, A Level etc. meet the minimum requirements of the University. It doesn’t matter which system you study in; each US University has a specific range in terms of grades that an applicant would need to be within in order to be considered as an applicant. For instance if you’re applying to an Ivy League university, you would probably need a 4.0 GPA, or a 43/45 IB score, or two A*s and one A in A Levels, or 5** in 5 subjects in DSE.
Choose Your Subjects Wisely
Meeting the general academic requirements is just the first step, the admission officer then takes a look at the courses the student has taken in all of his/her high school years. Again, it doesn’t matter which academic system you’re in, the admission officer wants to see that you’ve not only taken rigorous courses but have also chosen courses relevant to the major that you want to pursue in university.
Standardized Testing: Take the SAT or ACT
One of the most challenging things about applying to US universities is that they require more additional testing than universities in any other country in the world. We’ve all heard about students spending two years prepping for the SAT or ACT in order to get a competitive score, and without a high SAT or ACT score, their applications (and their futures) would be doomed. This is far from the truth. These exams were originally created so that an admission officer could compare the academic capabilities or “college readiness” of students from different backgrounds. For instance, they might get an applicant from South Africa with a perfect 4.0 GPA, and an admission officer would like to use the SAT/ACT test to understand how that student’s academic capability is compared to a high school student in the US.
The Activity List: Show Who You Are
Here comes the next step in the selection process in which admission officers will weed out another portion of applicants. Hong Kong parents are notorious for filling their children’s schedule up with piano lessons, ballet lessons, after-school tutoring, volunteering, and summer programs. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these activities, but do these activities reflect the child’s student’s true interests, strengths, and talents? Do these activities show that the student will be ready to pursue their chosen major in university? Do these activities show leadership capability, commitment, global citizenship and personal depth? What kind of personal story does the student’s activity list tell us about them? These are questions admission officers will ask when they look at a student’s application.
Personal Statement: Tell a Compelling Story
One of the last steps in the US university selection process is the reviewing of the personal statement and supplement essays. The common application, which is most widely used by students to apply to multiple universities, has a 650-word personal statement. Additionally, students will most likely have extra supplement essays for different schools that they apply to. If you’re applying to 10 schools, you’ll most likely have to write around 11 essays. The US personal statement is very different from UK personal statement in that school are looking to understand more about the student’s personality and life story rather than their major choice. Whereas the supplement essay questions would be more about why the student chose that particular major and wants to attend that particular school. When brainstorming for these essays, our strategy is usually to take a deeper look into the previously filled-in activity list, and identify unique stories or background information that the student hasn’t already told the admission committee.
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