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Want to Excel in Admissions?


Calling all freshmen, sophomores, and juniors…this article is for you! When applying to college, your grades and the rigor of your classes are the primary determinants of how competitive you will be in admissions. However, students can make themselves even more interesting to admissions officers by developing their stories. Each of you should be asking yourself,“How can I pursue my interests in an authentic way?” By doing this you will naturally present more compelling college applications. This article will highlight several key areas. You certainly don’t have to do all of them, but hopefully some of these ideas will inspire you.


Work Experience: Test out potential careers by shadowing or interning with someone who works in an industry of interest; beyond companies, you can also considerNGOs, think tanks, and consulting firms. Aim to intern for at least one week – two would be even better – and complete a project. It’s great if you can help in some tangible way, even if it is by taking on work that lightens the load for others. Ideally, your manager will be happy to write you a glowing recommendation letter at the end.


Research: So many of our students have found research to be one of the most inspiring explorations they’ve taken on during high school. It is one of the best ways to demonstrate your intellectual curiosity. Many have completed IB Extended Essays or A-Level Extended Project Qualifications; however, we have found that some of the most exciting projects have been tailored to specific interests through mentored projects with university professors or Ph.D.students. Ivy Options is delighted to offer a special collaboration with Lumiere Education that makes research more exciting and accessible than ever for our students. The March application deadline is rapidly approaching, so talk to your Ivy Options counselor to learn more.


Online and Residential Courses: Look at Udemy, edX, Coursera, FutureLearn, and LinkedIn Learning to find options in any of the topics that interest you. Some of these courses are even free. Many universities also offer online and in-person courses, which may provide college credit.


Personal Projects: There is incredible scope to do something that is meaningful to you – and projects are a great way to stand out. While maker projects are perfect for engineers, there are many other things you can do, e.g.,create a curriculum, start an organization, write a story, or launch a program to meet a need. Ask yourself: which issues or problemsinspire me to act and what could I do about them? If you want support on your project, talk to your Ivy Options counselor and consider completing our new Mentored Project Program with Lumiere.


Community Service: Are there causes or charities that you care about? For example, you could give your time and talents to promote clean air or water, help the aged, support students with special needs, rescue animals, or teach others a subject or skill that you love.


Leadership: There are many opportunities at school, but they aren’t limited to this arena. You can lead in your volunteer work, in your personal projects if you enlist the help of others, and in sporting pursuits. You don’t have to run an organization to lead; you can show initiative and inspire or guide others in many ways.


Special Talents: If you are passionate about music, drama, art, sports, publics peaking, debate, creative writing or other areas, you can develop and showcase these talents – even if they aren’t what you hope to study at university. There are many ways to show what makes you unique. It is time to get excited about your passions, talents, and ambitions. If you are unsure about your preferred academic direction, we encourage you to consider taking the Strong Interest Inventory, an assessment tool that has been developed by the Myers Briggs company. Strong compares your interests to those of professionals who have been happily working in specific career fields. It then identifies best-fit subjects and careers that you might want to explore. After completing the questionnaire, you and your parents will meet with one of our trained counselors for a debriefing session, where you review the report together and receive advice on next steps. It is inspiring to explore broadly when you are younger and then dive deep as you move into your final two years of high school. It is especially important for you to use your summers well. Talk to your Ivy Options counselor about these ideas and make sure you take advantage of our Profile Development Sessions. These meetings with our expert counselor, Heather Amiji, provide specific strategies for matching your interests with specific opportunities to develop them. We are so excited to see how you grow and what each one of you will do!

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