College prep week: How to make your application stand out among the rest

It is officially college application season and thousands of high-school students are looking for ways to make their college applications stand out.

Crooms Academy of Information Technology senior Holden Swanson has been carefully building his college application since he was just 15 years-old.

“My sophomore year I was thinking about what [I can] get into that would be the best for me,” Swanson said. He is now getting ready to submit his application to Florida Polytechnic University and hopes to study mechanical engineering.

Swanson said his college application is packed with volunteer work, industry certifications and Eagle Scout experience. He thinks it will stand out to college admissions offices. 

“When people look and see on the resume or on the application and it says Eagle Scouts… They’re looking for that leadership that says… you’ve been trained for leadership and can lead a small group if needed to,” Swanson said. 

Crooms Academy Lead Guidance Counselor Dr. Vince Geigel said building a well-rounded college application begins in the 9th grade.

“Everything counts in high school,” said Dr. Geigel. He said colleges and universities look for students taking advanced courses like AP and Honors or dual enrollment.

He also said many universities like to see students study three years of a foreign language and get involved in school activities and clubs. Dr. Geigel said, “They need to show that they’ve had involvement within the school, particularly leadership positions are valued by the colleges. So whether it was in a club or student government or a team, leadership skills are highly valued.”

Dr. Geigel said meaningful volunteer work and even internships can set an applicant apart from the rest.

“Working in an office in IT or something for instance, something that you can do that shows the university that you’re really serious about a major and you have a track in mind. Even as a freshman students can start by doing volunteer work. A lot of our students do it in the summer because they have more free time.”

He also said colleges are re-emphasizing the college essay.

“You want to talk about experiences that you’ve had that are out of the ordinary,” Dr. Geigel said. “Anything that displays their tenacity or resilience or that they’ve overcome challenges can be meaningful and help them get in in certain cases.”

Above all, Dr. Geigel said do not be intimidated, stay organized and build a college application one step at a time.