From the Experts: THIS is what colleges want to see in applications

October 22, 2021

College admissions officers share what schools are really looking for

“I know I’m a good fit for this university. But what does the admissions office want to hear from me?”

You don’t need to put a glass to the wall to spy on admissions officers. They want you to know how to stand out because it makes their job easier. High schoolers spend months sweating over application details and essays, still wondering if they’re hitting the mark. 

We’ve collected some advice from university insiders to help you nail your college application.

[Watch] 6-second tips from 7 experts

Here’s a flurry of advice from seven experts with Personal statements, organization, and more.

Show a positive online presence

Andrea Williams, writing for Daily Parent, has an important reminder about online communication. Admissions officers will look through your social media profiles and online content. 

The spikeview tagline is “own your narrative” for a reason. Teens need to be deliberate about developing their own voice. Include your spikeview link in the additional information section of the college application.

Collect recommendations from people who are passionate about your success

get letters of recommendation from people who are passionate about your success

Lauren Herskovic, also with Admissionado, makes a great point about the type of recommendations that jump off a page:

It’s the [letters] that are passionate, then, that stand out. So it’s important for applicants to seek out recommenders who truly know them and believe in them—people who can get very specific as to why that applicant deserves that spot, why they are exceptional, etc.

Letters of recommendation are probably the most overlooked part of the application process. 

Rebecca Safier says schools are looking for a vision of your future role and accomplishments in their programs. Academics, personality, and community are all important

Harvard dean William Fitzsimmons says:

Recommendations can help us to see well beyond test scores and grades and other credentials and can illuminate…intellectual curiosity, creativity, and love of learning.

Even if you’re a good fit, demonstrate what makes you unique

Personal statements, essays, supplemental information, online presence… everything boils down to “who is this person, and what makes them stand out?” 

Treat your written and video responses like a serious project. Rutgers VP of Enrollment Courtney McAnuff says:

Review the essay question, and jot down your immediate responses. Don’t Google the question to see what others have written for their essays. If you can’t resist, at least write your outline first, and stay true to yourself in the final version.

Here’s more advice from five other admissions and enrollment officers. Thank you for this, Purdue University!

[Watch] Teens react to advice from MIT admissions officer

Two high school students reflect on advice from an MIT admissions officer and how it fits into their own college journey. 

They also share how spikeview helps formulate an original narrative, provides them with opportunities, and creates an awesome portfolio to help them achieve their college and career goals.