© 2013   Permission to use freely granted.  Distribution for profit not allowed without prior arrangement.

College 4 . Us

Plan and act today so you have no regrets tomorrow...

The more selective schools pay a lot of attention to your extracurricular activities.  With all the students doing multiple on-campus clubs, volunteer work, and sports, it’s really hard to stand out from among your peers.  Therefore, I encourage those of you aiming for the top schools to do some projects that demonstrate your passion, creativity, and interests.  These projects can really help you attract attention, but I sure hope that’s not the primary motivation behind your project.

Here are some ideas, some of which cost little or no money:

A Short Video or Animated Slide Presentation

You can create a short video about something you care about.  Generally, you want to pick a topic that shows your passion, concerns for the public good, and maturity.  So it should not be about yourself and other topics that do not appeal to most other people.  For instance, here are some topics that would make you more appealing:

A video can include pictures or videos you pull from online sources (but please remember to cite your sources).  Put in additional information and ideas for action so you are advocating for something.  Make it inspirational.  Such videos will distinguish yourself from most other teenagers who can’t see beyond their Facebook postings.

Video editing can now be done with many free software, and even on your iPhone.  You can really show your problem-solving abilities by creating great videos with no professional tools.  But if you have the access to professional tools, you can also mention how much you learned from the process.

Finally, post it on Youtube so you can send them the link for them to review.  The interviewer will review materials after the interview.  If you do bring a portable DVD player to show the interviewer your video, that could show just how passionate you are about your project.

A Blog

Most teenagers blog about useless stuff on their Facebook page.  That’s not too bad if it’s circulated among authorized friends only.  To really appeal to colleges, you can blog publicly about things of more general interest, such as your findings about a topic of concern (see the above examples).  If it’s a personal blog about you, then focus on lessons you learn from things that happen to you instead of making it into a running diary (you are too young to have a worthwhile autobiography, I’m sorry to tell you...).

Here’s one example of a student’s blog about things she learns from everyday things: http://abimariamshadesofgray.blogspot.com/

Public Awareness Initiatives

A short video, an animated slide presentation, or a blog can all be part of a larger public awareness initiative for a cause that’s of general public appeal (see above examples).  This, however, can be very time-consuming and should probably be done in a group setting with you being a major leader.  You want to be an integral part of the planning process, and then organize the efforts so many contribute to the project.  Colleges like to see leadership skills demonstrated (please see the section about Extracurricular Activities).

Next: The Actual College Application

Ideas for A Project to Attract Attention