In my experience, there are a lot of opportunities in high school to prepare for university but when it comes time to apply there are a few important things you should keep in mind. Universities want students who are well-rounded, which means, with academics and extra-circulars, have skills that make them unique and capable as individuals. You may not be sure about what universities are looking for when you start to work on them, so here are five qualities I’ve found that universities like to see in their applicants.
Being a leader rather than a boss is something people admire. Universities admire applicants that have taken a post or position (at or outside of school) where you had to lead a group of people to accomplish something. This is a quality that will come in handy if you’re applying to a business school, start your own company or even apply for a management position at a respected firm. The ability to be a leader shows that you can motivate, coordinate with and support a group of people. This is the trait that most successful people share.
Passion for a chosen subject
This is crucial as it is directly related to your application and what you might want to study at university. Although you are not expected to know your major till your second year of university (in most cases), it definitely helps to have an idea about the subjects you’d like to study. This will help you with finding the right university for your interests and being aware of this beforehand gives you an opportunity to get some form of work experience, such as an internship, or writing a research paper (if it has something to do with science), attend a summer program studying an in-depth topic that is of your intended major, etc. Anything that is of evidence to the university that you are passionate about a certain subject or topic and you have taken an effort to learn more about it or experience it first-hand.
Your proficiency in English, especially if you’re an international student, matters greatly. Being able to communicate your ideas, opinions, and feelings accurately is extremely important in today’s age, especially when the majority of international diplomatic unrest is caused due to the misinterpretation of messages by different nations. Being able to write essays, research papers and applications is something that universities would like to see you ace at. To take it a step further, it’s an incentive if you’re a public speaker and can speak eloquently at debates or formal ceremonies as it gives a sense of confidence and an ability to reach out to people who hesitate.
Universities want to know what makes you different than the rest of the applicants. They’ll look for a ‘hook’ about you in your personal essay, extra circulars, interview and everything else in your application that tells them more about who you are as a person and what makes you stand out from the rest. To get closer to discovering your ‘X’ factor, you can start by listing out your strengths and weaknesses, and then look how your notable life experiences have shaped you, that’s usually where the answer lies. Self-awareness is one of the most common traits of billionaires today and most of them look for that trait in the people they hire.
Commitment to service
Giving back to your community is something that should be inculcated and not dictated. We are very fortunate individuals to be blessed with all the luxuries of life and it is thus our duty to give back in any way that we can to those who might not be as fortunate as we are. Service isn’t limited just to human beings, try to find something about the world that you feel is in bad shape and try to find ways to make it better, it could be anything from conservation of water to animal rights. Universities want to see continuous effort and commitment to whatever form of service you are involved in.
At EF Academy international boarding schools, we pride ourselves on our ability to set students up for university success.