Are you a high school student gearing up to apply to college? Or perhaps you’re a parent helping your child navigate the daunting college application process. Either way, you’re likely wondering how to impress universities with your application

Applying to college can be an overwhelming task, and one of the biggest questions on every applicant’s mind is, “What do colleges look for in an application?” While each college has its own unique set of criteria, most universities seek out students who are intelligent, driven, ambitious, and passionate. Therefore, it’s essential to showcase your best qualities in your college application.

If you’re applying to study music, for example, be sure to highlight your experience playing the violin in different areas of your application. Demonstrating your sincere interest in the school is also crucial. After all, you wouldn’t be applying if you didn’t have a good reason for wanting to attend that particular college.

You don’t have to be a genius like Marie Curie or Stephen Hawking, but you should be motivated to push yourself and take on new challenges. The main objective of a college application is to distinguish you in a favorable and memorable way from other applicants.

In this article, we’ll provide you with tips and tricks to impress universities with your application. By the end, you’ll be well on your way to submitting an application that showcases your best qualities and convinces colleges that you’re the perfect fit for their institution.

A great application will have most or all of the following elements

A great college application typically includes several key elements that demonstrate your unique strengths, abilities, and potential as a student. These elements may vary slightly depending on the specific university and program you’re applying to, but generally, a strong application should include:

1. A high academic GPA and a great curriculum background

One of the most important components of your application is your academic transcript, which showcases your high school GPA and the types of classes you’ve taken. While it’s true that a high GPA is impressive, it’s not the only thing that matters. The key is to have a GPA that is higher than the average GPA of admitted students at the college you’re applying to.

Think about it this way: imagine you’re competing in a race. You could be the fastest runner in your school, but if you’re up against runners from other schools who are even faster, your chances of winning decrease. The same goes for your college application. While a high GPA is great, it’s important to aim for a GPA that sets you apart from other applicants and shows universities that you’re serious about your education.

But GPA isn’t the only thing universities consider. They also want to see a strong curriculum background. This means taking challenging classes, such as Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses, that demonstrate your ability to handle college-level material. Not only will taking these courses help you stand out, but it will also better prepare you for the rigors of college.

Of course, every student’s situation is unique, and universities take a holistic approach when reviewing applications. They also consider factors. But by focusing on your academic performance and taking challenging courses, you’ll be well on your way to impressing universities with your application.

So, start by setting high academic goals for yourself and challenging yourself with rigorous courses. Talk to your guidance counselor about what classes are available and which ones would be a good fit for you. And remember, while a strong transcript is important, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. 

2. Strong test scores

There’s more to impressing institutions with your college application than merely sending in a few transcripts and crossing your fingers. It’s about demonstrating your academic proficiency, your distinctive abilities, and your capacity to separate from the competition. Strong scores on standardized examinations are one method to achieve this. Depending on the program and country you are applying to, many institutions demand standardized tests like the SAT, ACT, GRE, or GMAT. High test results can help your application stand out from those of other candidates.

Preparation is essential for acing these exams. If you need to, think about enrolling in a prep course or hiring a tutor as you start your studies well in advance, make sure you are comfortable with the test’s format and practice your test-taking techniques. Never hesitate to seek assistance if you need it; classmates, guidance counselors, and instructors may all offer insightful advice and support.

Remember, it’s not just about passing the test – it’s about doing better than the other applicants. So aim high, and strive to achieve the best possible score. This will not only impress the universities you’re applying to but also increase your chances of receiving scholarships and other financial aid.

By putting in the effort to achieve strong test scores, you’ll be one step closer to impressing universities with your application. So, take a deep breath, stay focused, and give it your all!

3. A Striking Statement of Purpose

Your college application might significantly benefit from a well-written Statement of Purpose (SOP). One of the few opportunities you have to demonstrate to the admissions committee who you are as a person, beyond simply your academic performance and test results, is in your personal statement. In fact, the SOP is viewed as being somewhat or significantly crucial in the application process by many universities.

What can you do, then, to make sure the admissions committee is impressed with your SOP? Honesty, specificity, and eloquence are the three primary characteristics that universities often seek in an SOP.

First and foremost, your SOP should be honest. What you write about should have happened to you and should be how you feel. It’s never a good idea to exaggerate details or outright lie in your SOP. Admissions committees can usually tell when someone is being insincere, and it’s important to build a foundation of trust with the committee from the outset.

Secondly, your SOP should be specific. Using concrete details to effectively convey your thoughts, views, and experiences will make your statement a lot more memorable, personable, and, most importantly, unique. Rather than simply telling the committee that you are passionate about your chosen field, for example, try to illustrate your passion through specific examples and anecdotes from your life that demonstrate your interest and commitment.

Finally, your SOP should be eloquent. Don’t expect to get accepted anywhere if your statement is poorly written and full of grammar and spelling errors. A great personal statement has a sensible organization, tells a compelling story, and is completely free of technical errors. It’s a good idea to have someone you trust, such as a teacher or mentor, read over your SOP to catch any errors or provide feedback on the overall structure and tone.

Ultimately a thoughtfully drafted SOP might be a useful tool in your college application. You can leave a lasting impression on the admissions committee and raise your chances of getting into your ideal school by being honest, specific, and persuasive in your application. Spend some time developing a strong SOP, and keep in mind that it should represent your personality as well as your academic accomplishments.

4. A unique extracurricular interest or passion

When it comes to college applications, having a unique extracurricular interest or passion can help you stand out from the crowd. But it’s not just about listing every activity you’ve ever participated in. Admissions committees are looking for a detailed overview of one or two of your most passionate interests, along with any major achievements in those areas.

Let’s say you plan to major in Sports Management. You’ll want to highlight any relevant experiences you have, such as being part of your department’s football team or having worked in sports-event management. But don’t just stop there – make sure to showcase any major accomplishments or contributions you’ve made in these areas. Perhaps you organized a charity event that raised thousands of dollars for your local community, or you led a team to victory in a national competition. These types of accomplishments demonstrate leadership, creativity, and dedication – all qualities that universities look for in their applicants.

So if you have a unique extracurricular interest or passion, don’t be afraid to show it off – it could be the key to impressing universities with your application.

5. Volunteering experience/Social Service with measurable impact

When it comes to college applications, volunteering, and social service experiences can make a huge impact. But what stands out to college admissions committees is not just the act of volunteering, but the measurable impact it has had on the community or organization. So, how can you make sure your volunteering efforts leave a lasting impact?

Find a cause or organization about which you are genuinely enthusiastic. This will make it simpler for you to devote your time and effort to truly changing things. Next, become involved in a way that enables you to make a significant contribution. Find a method to make your contributions matter, whether it’s through fundraising, event planning, or hands-on labor.

But don’t stop there! Make sure you are keeping track of the impact you are making. This could mean taking before-and-after photos, collecting data, or conducting surveys to measure the effectiveness of your service. Colleges want to see that you are not just volunteering for the sake of it, but that you are actively making a difference in the world around you.

It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to be a leader in order to make a positive impact through your service. While leadership roles can certainly demonstrate your potential as a future leader, even small contributions can make a big difference. What’s most important is that you are genuinely invested in the cause and committed to making a difference.

If you’re unsure about where to begin, look into tools like the AIESEC site, which provides options for volunteer work and social service that have a demonstrable impact. The important thing is to choose a cause that matters to you and do something to change the world. Your volunteer work can help you stand out throughout the college application process if you put a lot of passion and effort into it and make a point of quantifying the effect of what you do.

6. Compelling Letters of Recommendation (LORs)

Getting compelling letters of recommendation can be a game-changer for your college application. These letters offer a glimpse into who you are as a student and as a person, and can provide valuable insight into your abilities, character, and potential.

It’s important to choose your recommenders carefully. Think about teachers, professors, or mentors who know you well, and who can speak positively about your academic achievements and personal qualities. Ideally, you want someone who can vouch for your work ethic, critical thinking skills, and leadership potential.

Make sure you provide your recommender enough time to prepare the letter when requesting a referral. Additionally, it would be a good idea to provide them with a summary of your achievements, ambitions, and hobbies, along with information on the particular standards and expectations of the universities you are applying to. They may then use this information to create a letter that is personalized for you, focused on your advantages, and pertinent to the programs you’re considering.

To impress institutions and get you into your ideal school, keep in mind that solid letters of reference can serve as a very effective weapon. So be selective when choosing your recommenders, provide them with the information they want, and express your appreciation for their support.

7. Work experience, particularly related to your academic or professional interests

Work experience can be a significant advantage on a college application, especially if it’s relevant to your academic or professional interests. It shows that you’re already taking steps toward your goals and are committed to gaining experience in your field. When describing your work experience on your application, focus on what you learned and accomplished. Did you take on any leadership roles or develop new skills? Did you contribute to any major projects or initiatives? Highlighting these details will help demonstrate your drive and potential to the admissions committee.

Even if your work experience is not directly related to your academic or career goals, it’s still valuable to include. Any job, no matter how small, teaches valuable skills such as responsibility, time management, and teamwork, which are all important for success in college and beyond.

In addition, use the application as an opportunity to explain why you initially pursued the job and what values or skills it taught you. For example, if you worked at a restaurant, you could talk about how it taught you the importance of customer service, how to work under pressure, and how to manage your time efficiently.

At Svastrino, we believe in a well-rounded approach to education, which includes both academic excellence and practical experience. We offer mentorship programs to help students to look for internships and part-time jobs related to their interests, as well as develop the skills they need to succeed in their future careers. By emphasizing the importance of work experience and providing opportunities for students to gain real-world experience.

8. Vocational Courses outside of your school or college academics

When it comes to applying for colleges, it’s not just about your academic performance in high school. Admissions committees also want to see what you have been doing outside of school and how you’ve been developing your interests and skills. One great way to impress universities is by taking vocational courses outside of your school or college academics. These courses demonstrate your willingness to go above and beyond in your education and to pursue your passions outside of traditional classroom settings.

If you’re interested in pursuing a certain career field, taking courses related to that field can be a great way to demonstrate your dedication and knowledge in the area. For example, if you’re interested in a career in graphic design, taking a course in Adobe Photoshop or other design software can showcase your skills and interest in the field.

Not only do vocational courses show your dedication and expertise, but they also demonstrate your ability to take initiative and be proactive in your education. Taking courses outside of your school or college can also give you a competitive edge when applying for internships or jobs in the future.

So, if you’re looking to impress universities with your application, consider taking vocational courses outside of your school or college academics. Not only will you gain valuable knowledge and skills, but you’ll also demonstrate your dedication and passion for your desired field of study. 


Impressing universities with your application requires a well-rounded and thoughtful approach. In addition to focusing on your academics and test scores, highlighting your extracurricular interests and passions, volunteering experience, letters of recommendation, work experience, and vocational courses can make a significant difference in your application’s overall impression.

It’s crucial to show your individuality and desire for knowledge while applying to universities. Make sure to emphasize your strengths because universities are searching for well-rounded individuals with a variety of experiences and skills. If you want more direction, don’t be afraid to look for a mentor or make use of solutions like Svastrino’s mentorship programs. Our programs can provide you with personalised guidance and support to enable you to succeed.

By implementing these suggestions and making an effort, you may improve your chances of impressing institutions and differentiating yourself from other applicants. Remember to put your best foot forward and showcase your individuality. Best of luck in your application process!


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