What sets your college application apart?

What sets your college application apart?
Photo Credit Richland School District Two Follow/Flickr

By Madison Rossi Barrington and Peter Timotijevic Rolling Meadows

It seems like the college application process gets more competitive every year. What separates one applicant from the next? It could be their grades or extracurriculars—or maybe it’s a cool summer internship.

Whatever it is, that special quality is often called an “edge.” So, how can students find their edge and stand out from their competition?

“I don’t think (having an edge) would ever be required, but it does give you that advantage,” Rolling Meadows college counselor Robert Yerkan said. “That edge can level the playing field.”

Rolling Meadows senior Prithvi Ramesh said he had trouble finding an internship in neuroscience, a field he’s interested in pursuing. He looked to his connections for a solution.

“I was looking for an internship and I couldn’t find many for high school students,” Ramesh said. “I got my internship through the (school) district.”
Ramesh ended up working under a clinical neuroscientist over the summer, an internship that he’ll be able to put on his resume when applying for college. Sometimes all you have to do is ask the people around you for help.

Other students find their edge by taking on leadership roles or starting their own clubs or organizations. Barrington senior Jake Herb founded his own charity called Go Beyond Barrington.

“Go Beyond Barrington is a student-led charity organization that I founded in response to the tornado that devastated the city of Joplin,” Herb explained.

Herb said he believes his resume will represent his unique advantage: a knack for leadership and innovation.

Hersey senior Mike Fuerst has a similar story. He founded Super Buddies, an organization that works with special needs students at his school. Fuerst said it was important for him to find something he truly enjoyed doing.

“For some, music gets them excited, and for others it’s debate. There are tons of things to be passionate about, and that’s why everyone’s edge is their own unique trait,” Fuerst said. “I’d just emphasize for people to do what they love.”

Finding your edge could be as simple as adjusting your class schedule. That’s exactly what Rolling Meadows senior Eugene Jegal did.

“I already knew what I wanted to do so I took a lot of computer classes,” Jegal said. Taking specialized courses that reflect your future career interests could give you the advantage you need.

Once you find something you’re passionate about, be sure your application reflects it. Don’t forget to include little details that set you apart from other applicants.

Remember, finding your edge is a win-win situation for you and your future school.

“Every school wants good students who are passionate about what they want to study,” Yerkan said. “It’s good for the school, it’s good for the students.”