Road-Map to Getting Admitted Into a Liberal Arts College
If you want to get into a top liberal arts college, you must begin planning at the onset of grade 9. After all, the liberal arts colleges consider the entire high school, i.e., grade 9 to grade 12 activities (both academic and non-academic) when they evaluate the application submitted in the fall of grade 12.
Some of the basic evaluation parameters are:
- Academic grades
- Entrance exam scores (SAT/ACT or the internal aptitude)
- Application essay content
- Letter of Recommendation if needed.
It is a general knowing that every student should try and be on top of the class and get the highest possible grades.
However, some students need more than hard work and brains to accomplish this, they need to pull up a strategy and do the right planning from grade 9 itself.
The first step towards planning is to identify the strengthens, weakness and passion along with setting a goal.
To help achieve the first step the student should idly speak to someone who has knowledge and experience to help enumerate the above. The best person would be a Career Counsellor, who can help in the same without being biased and can show a clear pathway.
Once the identification is done then it is essential to strategically select the subjects to study based on the set goal.
If a student has the desire to learn and puts in the extra time and effort, thus the performance will show the desired grades.
This will give a significant edge when the college admission application is submitted.
Besides the academic grades, another most important piece of the application is the standardized (entrance) exam score.
Most liberal arts colleges accept either the SAT or the ACT, but some colleges have their own aptitude exam. This information is available on the admission procedure page of the college site.
It is essential to first check that and prepare accordingly.
Admissions review team considers these scores very seriously, thus it is advised that a student starts preparing for it well in advance to secure the best scores.
Exam Prepping strategies:
- Take an online test to face the exam pattern and evaluate your own-self.
- Select a method of preparation – Online or Classroom.
- Choose a trainer/study guide keeping in mind their experience and compatibility level with you.
- Understand the test format well.
- Work on weaker section well but at the same time balance the other sections so that the preparation is overall.
- Work on Time Management drills.
- Practice as much as you can from all resources available.
- Take regular Mock papers and get them reviewed.
In short, working on doing the best is always an advantage instead of blaming the circumstances for the flaws. Getting help if needed to perform well on the exams is beneficial for the applications.
Another aspect that is considered crucial while the application is being reviewed, is the essays. The student can be judged on the style and content of the essay. Therefore, it is critical to have strong writing skills.
It is not possible to develop writing skills overnight, but one can take the language classes seriously from grade 9 onwards to make sure that the grammar, style, spelling and overall structuring is sorted.
The student needs to write a captivating essay to get into the eyes of the review team and secure an admission.
For a gripping essay the below mentioned building blocks are essential-
- An exceptional vocabulary (without being excessive or showy)
- Understanding of structure
- The ability to persuade a reader
- Readability of a piece
College Essay Tips:
So when writing an essay, the student needs to be sure to:
- Cover all outlooks of the question (break the question into parts for better understanding)
- Follow the standard structure pattern (introduction, body, conclusion)
- Break the body into multiple paragraphs to showcase different points and make it interesting for the reader.
- Eliminate wordy words and phrases to keep the flow concise and direct.
- Get someone to proofread it – Parent or Counsellor
- Polish it so that the format and content are to the best possible mark.
Both short and long answer questions need to be answered for some applications. Thus a student needs to learn the art of being able to channel all ideas without being repetitive and illustrate the language knowledge in a broader manner.
Lastly, a student needs to make sure that the guidelines mentioned are followed strictly, i.e,
many application essay question provide a firm word count whereas some come with multiple components to be answered in one.
By mentioning specifics, a student can portray to the college about the you how serious and focus he/she are about getting admitted.
STRONG RECOMMENDATION LETTERS:
Some applications requires the student to get a recommendation letter, and mostly Indian Schools appoint a school counsellor to do the needful.
Well, the student doesn’t have any say in what is being written and cannot even view the same.
But a student can contribute towards the recommendation letter by developing a good relationship with the teachers and school counsellors to be able to get a glowing recommendation letter when the time to apply for college admission and complete scholarship applications comes into being.
Developing good relations means to make sure that the recommender has all vital details about the student in terms of academic grades, extra-curricular activities, knows the potentials and drawbacks so that the recommendation is articulated well and speaks about the student overall.
No doubt, Recommendation letters carry 15% weightage on the application, therefore ignoring it is not the right approach.
The above parameters solely don’t get the applicant admitted, alongside an outstanding profile is needed to impress the admission review panel along with an interview session.
PROFILE BUILDING TIPS:
It is a general thought process which runs in the mind of all Indian households that extracurricular activities as mere fluff or a waste of time.
But in reality, liberal arts colleges consider extracurricular activities to be an imperative part of the application and expect the applicant to have a life outside academics.
Simultaneously, a student shouldn’t in haste sign up for 6 club activities and 2 sports which can affect the entire profile and is out of capacity.
Colleges usually look at the applicants deep involvement in two or three club activities where exceptional involvement and extraordinary talent can be portrayed.
Let’s take a look at the different activities which can help in shaping up your profile.
- Music – Being a part of an orchestra or professional performing in groups or solo (or even be part of an award-winning choir or high school band).
- Art – having participation in art shows, art internships, art therapy, community service projects or ways to develop an online art presence or portfolio.
- Theatre – Just being an amateur performer doesn’t help instead taking acting and singing classes, which lead to participation in theatre projects can add value and skill. Even being a part of the behind the scenes artist such as doing on set design and construction can represent team working and leadership skills
- Debate and MUN – Exhibiting communication skills by being a member of the debate or the MUN society can help in rendering interpersonal, networking and leadership skills.
- Technology – Lately, technology clubs are new and help students to put forward their learning and ideas into practical being such robotics, graphic design, drafting and computer programming.
- Writing – Being a part of the school editorial can help the applicant be involved in writing, layout, design, and editing leading to heading as the chief editor.
- Athletics – Demonstrating the ability to work hard, play hard and persevere through physical pain by participating in a sport or on a team can boost confidence and give balance to life.
- Community Service – Learning to give to the society can help in rendering not only the personality of the student but also helps in earning credit points for the application.
- Olympiads – Taking Olympiads conducted for multiple subjects in school is highly advised, not only does it help in self-evaluation but also boosts the confidence to be able to perform on a global platform.
- School Council – To work in the student council with the role of the head or a team member helps to bring about a change in the persona of the student by making him/her more responsible and learning to tackle and solve problems in accordance with the situation around.
Having developed and demonstrated the profile as mentioned above, if the students’ application gets approved then follows the Interview which can either me in person or over a call.
To be able to efficiently express yourself in the interview than get intimidated, to be able to demonstrate good speaking skills is very essential.
College Interview Tips
While practicing for interviews, a student should keep in mind some very basic rules:
- It is a good idea to be presentable in a professional manner, i.e. , dressing up in an outfit which showcases seriousness and gives a proficient look.
- Practice answering interview questions with an authoritative figure such as parent, teacher or counsellor. This helps in curtailing the nervousness and helps overcome anxiety.
- Do a well-rounded research about the college applied to and also about the course, to be able to answer questions with confidence.
- Practicing the art of unfolding weaknesses as strengths is a valuable idea. For example, if asked what your weaknesses are, you can say you are a diligent student who sometimes takes her studies too seriously, and that you have to remind yourself to relax and enjoy life sometimes.
- Make sure to present the personality which illustrates a clean-cut, respectable, eager to attend the college, and ready to contribute to the student body adds more weightage.
Take advantage of the interview to showcasing what makes you unique and valuable.
Author: Priyamvada Agarwal
Priyamvada Agarwal is a proficient career consultant, educationist & test-prep trainer from Kolkata, shaping the lives of numerous students since 2010. She graduated in Arts from Calcutta University and completed her post-graduate from the University of Cambridge.
ver the years, Priyamvada has interacted with and trained thousands of candidates for IELTS/TOEFL/PTE and Verbal section GMAT/GRE/SAT/ACT. She has also been providing soft-skill & life-skill training to innumerable people through the skill-enhancement workshops that she conducts in MNCs, Private Firms and leading Colleges.
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