college entrance hook

Make the Most of Your “Hook” to Help Gain Admissions to a Top-Tier College

When it comes to talent, if you’ve got it… flaunt it! This is as true in the competition for acceptance at elite colleges as it is anywhere.  If you don’t have talent as a natural gift, then start now to develop yours through hard work and dedication. Even in the age of GPS, the answer to the question, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” is still, “Practice!”

Gaining admission to an Ivy League or other top-tier college is a formidable challenge. At IvySelect, we urge students to improve their chances of acceptance by emphasizing their talents, or, as we refer to them, their “hooks”.

In addition to excellence in a sport (topic of the next post), your hooks may be in the performing arts, debate, visual arts, mathematics, language arts, sciences, or any academic field or focus common to the college experience. IvySelect helps you to identify and enhance your hooks and guides you in leveraging them to your best advantage.

Gone are the days of the “well-rounded student” who was good at a dozen things and was highly valued for a modicum of participation in many activities.  Admissions officers now seek students who genuinely excel at a few things… or even just one. So hone the hook that will be your contribution to your college community whether it relates to your academic interests or an extracurricular activity.  Your hooks can make the difference in the achievement of your educational goals.

A strong primary hook is often instrumental in obtaining college financial aid.  In some situations, a truly compelling hook can facilitate the admission of a student whose credentials are otherwise on the margin of a college’s acceptance parameters.

With the assistance of IvySelect, you’ll prepare a strong case for the value that your talents will contribute to a college. There will be no audition or review meeting to demonstrate your talents, so you want external evidence to support your case.

Evidence that showcases your academic talent can be a record of success in student competitions. The higher your level of success — school, region, state, national, or international — the greater the impact on admissions officials.

Corporations such as Apple, Coca-Cola, GM, Canon, and Xerox sponsor competitions that bestow prestigious honors. Major corporate-sponsored science competitions include the following:

  • The Siemens Foundation sponsors a competition for high school seniors that promotes excellence in math, science, and technology. Students submit research projects at regional and national levels to earn scholarships and other awards. Colleges view winners in an extremely favorable light.
  • The Society for Science & the Public hosts the Science Talent Search competition sponsored by Intel. This contest is also highly regarded by colleges.
  • The Science Olympiad (Division C)is a high school team competition in which students compete in events in a range of scientific  Teams from all U.S. states compete at invitational, regional, state, and national levels.  Corporations that sponsor the host organization include 3M, Control Data, Ace Hardware, and NBC.

A strategic plan is indispensable in building a strong case for your primary hook.  Work with your IvySelect consultant to ensure that your talent is recognized by relevant external entities.  Below are suggestions for ways to obtain corroboration of your talent that can be readily appreciated by admissions officials.

  • Debate – Success in national competitions like the Tournament of Champions is especially impressive as proof of your talent as a debater.
  • Performing Arts – The stages, ensembles, and companies with which you have performed are significant. For example, if you play violin in a city or state orchestra, admissions officers will know that you’re the real deal.
  • Visual Arts – The more impressive the venue in which your work is exhibited, the greater the impact. It shows that experts acknowledge your talent. Admissions officers will also note any awards and other forms of recognition.
  • Language Arts – Writing quality is often assessed by the prestige of the publications that accept it. Submit your pieces to all media channels and don’t fear rejection.

In the intense competition for admissions to top-tier colleges, your personal IvySelect college counselor helps you use any edge to your best advantage. With your counselor guiding you, your hooks become a substantial part of the compellingly positive persona that will impress even the most elite of colleges.