How to Stand Out to Ivy Leagues and Top Tier Colleges: Virtual Event Highlights

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The college application process can seem stressful and complex, but the New York Post and Command Education are here to give you the best advice and tips on how to ensure your student can conquer it all. 

The Post and admissions consultancy Command Education recently partnered on a virtual event designed to educate and inform students and parents on the do’s and don’ts of college applications. “College Admissions: How to Stand Out to Ivy Leagues and Top Tier Colleges” was a live event with Command Education founder and CEO Christopher Rim and New York Post op-ed editor Kelly Torrance. They covered everything from getting started on the application journey to putting your best foot forward in the college essay, providing lots of insightful advice for prospective college students and their parents.

Watch the full event above and read on to learn our top five takeaways from the inspirational and informative discussion. 

What are colleges looking for?

Most families think colleges are looking for students with a little bit of everything on their resumes (i.e., internships, sports, good grades, school clubs, etc.). But Christopher and his team at Command Education know that colleges are much more interested in building well-rounded classes rather than selecting well-rounded students. When looking at a student’s application, top tier colleges want to see each student’s passion jump off the page. They’re not interested in a student who had a small hand in multiple areas. They want a student who focused on their passion throughout high school and brought it to life in their spare time. So while good grades and strong test scores are a good foundation for your college application, they’re just a small part of what colleges are looking for. 

What extracurricular activities should I do?

Extracurricular activities should reflect a student’s interests and passions. Many people feel that a student needs to be an elite athlete or captain of the debate team throughout high school. The truth is, extracurricular activities should be unique and different for every student. Christopher offers an example of a student he worked with who was interested in makeup and beauty. Command Education helped her realize her passion could be transformed into an activity that brought her personality to life on her college application. The student ended up starting her own YouTube channel and created video tutorials showcasing different beauty products. This extracurricular activity showed colleges that she was able to build something unique out of a personal passion. 

Should I take the SATs and ACTs? 

With colleges and universities changing their policies on which test scores they accept, demand or reject, families everywhere are wondering how their students should approach the SATs and ACTs. A huge piece of advice that Christopher outlined during our virtual event was that students should definitely take the SATs and ACTs if they are able to. His reasoning is that even if a college claims to be “test optional,” it can still look at these test scores to decide between two students who otherwise have near-identical applications. In this case, Christopher believes that schools would accept the student who submitted a high test score over a student who didn’t submit one at all. So although colleges have varying policies on standardized testing, taking the SATs and ACTs is an important component of your college application.  

The only way colleges would truly not consider test scores is if they enforce a ‘test-blind’ policy.

Christopher Rim

How should I approach my college application essay? 

Another common misconception is that college essays need to be packed with long, convoluted sentences and SAT vocabulary. Christopher’s advice on college essays is simple: Be yourself! The more authentic a college essay sounds, the stronger it is. There are no right or wrong answers to any specific essay questions that a college may provide, nor is there a specific topic or two a college is looking for when it leaves its prompts open-ended. Colleges are using these essays to get an idea of what the student will be like on campus. They want the simplest, most authentic version of the student to come through in that essay so they can really get a feel for what it would be like having that student in the classroom. 

Who can help? 

With essays, test scores, passion projects, and other college application elements to keep track of, students who are interested in getting into the best of the best schools should have the right mentor to guide them along the journey and help them stand out. Command Education offers a variety of different services that will help students put their best foot forward when it comes to submitting a strong college application. Command Education’s approach resonates with both high school students and their families. The mentors at Command are younger adults who went through their own college application process not too long ago. Their near-peer age allows them to foster a productive relationship with their mentees so students don’t feel like they’re reporting to a parental figure. At Command Education, your student’s interests and passions will be the starting point for their journey and mentors will help them foster and develop their interests into something that will help them stand out. 

Ready to get the support you need? Visit CommandEducation.com to schedule a consultation.