Preparing The University Application Package

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We all know that you need to have strong grades for university, being as close as possible to the 100 percent mark. This can be difficult for many students, especially in competitive (private) secondary school programs. In other words, some may assign grades based both on how the student did according to the curriculum and the other students in the class. This can provide a great way to stand up from the crowd but it ignores the many other applicants who performed equally well on both the transcripts and testing. This is not to say that these two areas should be ignored since they will determine whether an interview is warranted (or not). This article will help you understand the process and to help prepare your student competitive for choices programs and schools. My Successful Illustration Portfolio for Applying to University + Advice - YouTube

Things To Consider When Applying

This article assumes that the student is interested in applying to a competitive program, where there are more applicants than available seats. Examples of these programs (in Canada) include (but are not limited to): The veterinarian program at Guelph, Commerce at the University of Toronto and law school at Osgoode Hall. In general, lower than 20 percent of all applicants are awarded a placement with a smaller elite figure being given some form of scholarship. This is due to the school’s desire to have the highest performing students in their program, giving them the best graduation rates and professional outcomes. In other words, it doesn’t help anyone if students are forced to drop out due to poor academic standing. To further decrease the applicant pool, students are judged on test performance, AP and IB programs (which may offer advanced post-secondary standing), and extracurriculars.

Putting Together The Portfolio

Before anything is assembled into media, the information should be organised and supported with relevant documentation. The objective is to stand out from everyone else, choosing activities that enrich both the applicant and the community at large. This goes beyond music and sports and signals future leadership ability. For example, a student may decide to start a fundraiser for the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, getting the school to reach out to the media for a story. If done correctly, community activism can elicit goodwill from everyone who encounters the story, from a school administrator all the way to a potential employer. Put simply, do not “tell” them what you stand for; instead, show them through action and behaviourCanadian Sport Awards - AthletesCAN

What Goes into the Portfolio?

It is meant to be highly personal and reflect the interests and abilities of the applicant. Common elements include:

  1. Reference letters from teachers, employers and volunteer placements.
  2. Character letters from community leaders.
  3. Media excerpts that exhibit strong achievement, community involvement or personal journalism. 
  4. Pictures that identify positive behaviour and socialisation
  5. Any meaningful awards (not the kind that you can buy)

Once everything is filtered for quality, try making a Google Slide or another presentation using a similar digital interface. It can be sent either as an attachment or you can integrate it into a video and narrate the presentation. You can elect to have speaker notes on the bottom, ensuring that you do not go too much off-track or forget about some key points. Do not worry that the audience can see your notes since you can opt to have this part hidden during the actual presentation. 

What Should I Keep Out?

The entire portfolio should be coherent and easy to follow. It should have a beginning, middle and an end. Make sure that you identify yourself properly. Let the reader know who you are, what makes you different and how you will bring value to the school. If you are a kind person, show how you have helped other students feel more involved and included. No matter what you do, do not talk about superficial things like being “cute or bubbly”. While your family and friends may appreciate their parts of you, the school prefers to see things which are tangible and able to be assigned objective value. In other words, being cute might be awesome for family parties but it does not make Harvard want to choose you over another applicant. Even if you are wealthy-and can make a donation to the school-not not even suggest that this is a possibility as it may be construed as bribery. Elite universities are well funded and can offer financial subsidies to whoever meets their academic requirements but cannot meet their tuition obligations.Reforming California's Community College System - Public Policy Institute of California

Submitting Your Application

Some schools have a general admission streamline where they access your academic grades directly from your high school. They may ask for additional information, especially if the program is both specific and competitive. This might mean that you will have to both submit a portfolio and attend an interview of sorts. They will ask relevant questions, trying to tease our personality, intentions and ability. It is usually a series of open-ended questions, forcing the student to apply both knowledge and critical thinking skills. It is advantageous to use this time to refer back to the portfolio, a medium that serves as a resource-bank for all of the “reasons” that they should choose you. Be firm yet humble, recognizing both the status of the school and the competitiveness of the process. If these steps are taken seriously-and applied in a creative way-you will be on your way to securing that “prized admission offer”. 


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