Application Advice for College-Bound Students


High school seniors are sending out more and more college applications each year and NACAC members have some advice for students who want to make their applications stand out in the growing pile.

Extracurriculars are a big buzzword on college applications, but Craig Meister, director of college counseling at Oxbridge Academy (FL), urges students to look beyond just their school’s offerings.

Get involved in your larger community. Don’t count out after-school jobs or even taking care of your siblings.

“Colleges look at extracurriculars in the context of a student’s environment,” Meister told US News & World Report. “It’s a combination of what you can afford and what you’re passionate about.”

About 54 percent of colleges consider admission test scores to be of “considerable importance” in admission decisions, according to NACAC data.

Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions at Duke University (NC), suggests that students look at the difference between the SAT and the ACT and, assuming their list of colleges accepts both, pick the test that best fits their style.

Though letters of recommendation do not rank as highly in admission decisions, they can be a deciding factor for students on the cusp.

“Always give great consideration to the people you ask to write a recommendation,” says Susan Schaurer, associate vice president for strategic enrollment management and marketing at Miami University (OH).

She suggests finding a teacher or a counselor who worked with you over a period of time so they can speak to your growth.

Read more application advice from NACAC members and other college admission professionals at US News & World Report.

Ashley Dobson is NACAC’s communications manager for content and social media. You can reach her at

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