Reflection: The Key to Success in College Admissions

Intentionality, reflection, open-mindedness, resilience, expression, engagement, balance, and confidence are the Cultiv8. Through our work with students over the years, we’ve identified the values in the Cultiv8 to be the most impactful when applying to college. Demonstrating these principles on applications and personal statements allows admissions officers to gain a deeper insight into who students are and what they may offer their institution. This will boost the chances of a student’s acceptance by setting them apart from other applicants. One value, reflection, is critical to it all.

It’s common for many to assume that when it comes to the application process, it’s all about the numbers. Grade point averages, test scores, advanced college credit, etc. These things matter greatly, but they can rarely be a difference-maker if two students have similar academic qualifications. With more students applying to college than ever before, the application process has become extremely competitive. Due to this need to compete, the grades that college applicants have been earning in high school have strengthened dramatically. This has made it much tougher for students to stand out with quantitative measures like grades or test scores.

What can get meaningful results is reflecting upon the experiences included in your application and explaining how they have helped you grow. It’s also important to demonstrate how they contribute to the path you are choosing to take as you enter college. By reflecting upon individual experiences, students can uncover a unique narrative for their application or personal statement that goes beyond what is typically offered by fellow applicants. Digging deeper and offering this kind of insight on your application will keep the admissions officer engaged and likely impressed.

It’s easy for a student to boast about the internship they scored, but how did it contribute to their growth? This is the key to practicing reflection. Reflect deeply and let admissions officers know the impact you made during the experiences you noted on your application. Let them know how your experience has shaped you as a person or informed your interests and goals. There isn’t much of a use for putting something on your application if it doesn’t impact you as a person. There are more students than ever applying to college, so going the step beyond merely listing your qualifications will set you apart from the application pool. Explain how your experience has shaped you and how it relates to your interests as a student and a contributing member of society. Show colleges you understand how to think long term and have taken action steps to work toward your goals.

As you navigate the college admissions process, continue reflecting and let your insights guide your voice. Go beyond the surface and let colleges know who you are and what you plan on accomplishing. A confident voice backed up by intentional accomplishments is sure to impress admissions officers. If you need help in letting your voice shine, contact your Cultivate coach today!