Author: Kailey Guillemin
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Applying for university can be a little scary. You’ve worked hard the last couple of years to get your grades up and make a flashy résumé. You want to stand out to your potential school.

Then the time comes to submit your application. Have you fully prepared your package, or are you worried you’ve left something important out?

Although universities will tell you the requirements for the application process, they won’t necessarily tell you what their admissions officers are actually looking at. It’s that unknown though that can be the most frustrating part.

Let us ease your mind a bit with seven things the admission officer is likely to look at in your application.

 

Your grades

Although this seems like a straightforward point, a university checking your grades before accepting you, it will be one of the most critical aspects of your application. Typically, schools have a minimum average grade you must meet before being even considered.

It’s not just the grades that they will look at. Admissions officers will take a look at your course load throughout your high school years. Did you take the easy way out, or, did you challenge yourself with more upper-level classes? The purpose is to see if you can handle the workload and are willing to challenge and push your education.

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Honesty – no exaggeration or cover-ups

The application is your chance to show off who you are to your potential university. The hard part, however, is that not everyone is perfect in high school. Chances are you probably had at least one lousy class, maybe a whole semester, got detention, or anything else that could look negative on your application.

Do not cover up mistakes. Admission officers will be able to find out. Instead of owning up to any mistakes and showing how it was a learning moment for you, they will see someone who isn’t truthful and hides from errors. Basically, they want to see maturity. University can be hard, and they want to know you won’t drop out after semester one.

 

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Letters of recommendations

Do you have a teacher, counsellor, coach, or another authority figure that can vouch for your character? If not, it’s not a bad idea to include a letter of recommendation from someone you trust and who knows you.

These letters are meant to tell the person reading why you are whom you say you are, and why they should trust and accept you. When an admissions officer sees those in your application, it can help reassure them with their judgement on you and increase your chances of being accepted.

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Why you want them

Admissions officer are not naïve. They know you’ve applied to more than just their university. However, they want to know that their school is the school you wish to attend.

As you fill out your application, make sure to show that you genuinely want to attend this school. Why is it unique and important to you? How will you be an asset to their learning community? What advantages do you see from attending their university? Consider those types of questions and make sure the answers are apparent in your application.

Engaged, active, and eager to learn

What do you think looks better to an admissions officer: someone who busts their butt getting high grades, is involved in different clubs in their high school, and has extra circular activities to add to their résumé? Or, someone who puts in the bare minimum and has nothing else to show?

Universities want students to come who will not only excel in their program but will also make their school look good too. Admissions officers will take a look at your extra circular activities, what you are all involved in besides attending class, and if you are willing to be engaged and contribute to the campus.

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You know what balance means

As much as admissions officers will look at everything else you are involved in outside the classroom, do not think you need to join every club and activity you can find. Besides the fact you are likely to burn yourself out, it also doesn’t show a balanced life.

Admissions officers want to see that you know how to balance your life between school work and everything else. Your grades should not be the ones to take the backburner because you are involved in too many things. Instead, what will look good to them is having just a couple of extra circular activities that you’ve been involved in for a long time. It shows commitment, what you are interested in, and that you can work your way up the leadership ladder.

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Anything specific pertaining to your program

Again, this can be an obvious point, but admissions officers will look to ensure you’ve met the requirements that are specific to your program.

Why is this important to state? Well, it means you’ve done some more research into their university rather than just merely Googling the basic admission requirements. It also will show that you have something, in particular, you are going after, not just coming for the sake of going to university. So, if you have a program you are applying to, make sure you meet their requirements as well.

 

Keep in mind, each university’s admission process will be slightly different. Take the time to research the school and their requirements thoroughly. Start looking before the application deadline. You never know what conditions you might have missed because you didn’t take the time to look.

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Kailey Guillemin

Kailey graduated with a degree in Journalism and Religious Studies from the University of Regina, Saskatchewan. Now she lives a double life in Manitoba – writer by day and dance teacher by night. When she’s not at her computer, you’ll find her curled up with a glass of red wine and knitting, or obsessively taking photos of her puppy.🐶🐾

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