One of Ivy Admissions most steadfast beliefs is that creating a cohesive application which tells a consistent, powerful story is the best route to get accepted into your top choice school. This can seem like a daunting task, but an easy way to conceptualize it that you’re trying to craft a brand for yourself. How are you going to market yourself to colleges? When they think of your name, what do you want them to remember?

Begin this process by thinking about what story you want to tell. The more unique, the better. Keep your experiences in perspective. You may have been the only captain of the tennis team at your high school, but there are probably hundreds, or even thousands, of captains applying to your top choice school. That’s not to say you shouldn’t write about the subject, but your essay can’t be as simple as what being a tennis captain taught you. Bring a unique spin to it.

Learning what information to leave on the cutting room floor is another key part of your marketing campaign. While it may be tempting to list every extracurricular you’ve done since you were fourteen, doing so might make it appear as though you’re trying to stuff your application with fluff. A good rule of thumb is that if you weren’t part of a club for more than two years or held a leadership position, it probably isn’t worth putting on your application. Similarly, while humility is a virtue, self-deprecation is not. Any good marketing campaign is always trying to present its product in the best light. You should do the same.

Once you’ve determined the thrust of your application, you should take a moment to reflect upon why you want to attend your set of schools. When you first heard about them or visited their campuses, what made your heart pitter-patter? How does the school’s values align with your own? What steps have you already taken towards your goals that college will help you achieve? Some great touchstones to help you answer that question are what classes, internships and personal experiences have taught you already. Finally, answer what are the ways in which each college will help support you in achieving your goals? The more specific you can get about each school, the better. Instead of saying that a given school has the best political science department in the country, name some classes you would like to take and professors under whom you would study. This’ll take a little bit of extra work but it is the difference between a good and great application.

Attending college isn’t the end of your journey, it’s the beginning of a new one. Telling that story is an essential part of Ivy Admission’s philosophy towards college applications. We’ll build your personal brand so that when admissions officers hear your name, they won’t ever forget it.