April 26, 2024

The Secret Ingredient to a Standout Application? Courage.

If you're wondering what sets an applicant apart in the sea of academic achievements and extracurricular accolades, Ryan Kelly has a one-word answer for you: courage.

But it's not about heroic feats; it's about being brave enough to step out of your comfort zone and embrace the challenges and opportunities that come your way.

Watch Ryan's advice here:

Here's why courage is the game-changer in making your application unforgettable:

Three Key Takeaways:

  • A Doorway to Unique Experiences: When you’re bold enough to explore paths less taken, you gather unique stories and experiences that make your application stand out.
  • Beyond Grades and Scores: Courage shows that there’s more to you than just your academic record. It highlights your ability to adapt and thrive in challenging situations.
  • Unparalleled Growth: Ryan’s take on courage emphasizes growth over conventional achievements. It’s about personal stories of venturing into the unknown, leading to personal development that’s impressive and impossible to ignore.

To further illustrate the point, here are some average versus standout college activities where courage and stepping outside your comfort zone are the differentiating factors:

Average College Activities:

  • Joining common interest groups or clubs.
  • Participating in intramural sports.
  • Volunteering for local community service.
  • Attending campus events and workshops.
  • Being a member of a study group.

Stand-Out College Activities:

  • Leading a student organization or becoming a club president.
  • Initiating a community service project or starting a non-profit.
  • Engaging in undergraduate research or presenting at conferences.
  • Studying abroad or participating in an international service-learning program.
  • Competing in collegiate level athletics or academic competitions.

Activities that Require Courage and Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone:

  • Performing arts: Whether it’s acting in a play, performing in a dance recital, or doing improv comedy, these demand a level of vulnerability and public exposure.
  • Public speaking and debate: Joining the debate or speech team not only develops your communication skills, but also the bravery to express and defend your ideas.
  • Leadership roles: Taking on leadership positions within student organizations can be daunting but also rewarding as it pushes you to make decisions and lead peers.
  • Entrepreneurial ventures: Starting a business or developing a product as part of an entrepreneurial club requires risk-taking and resilience.
  • Adventure and exploration: Outdoor excursions, rock climbing, or participating in wilderness programs challenge physical limits and encourage personal growth.

In the admissions game, where everyone’s trying to outshine with grades and extracurriculars, it’s your courage that could make you the dark horse.

So next time you’re facing something that scares you a bit, remember: this could be the story that sets your application on fire. Ready to be courageous?

I recommend watching highlights of other conversations with our experts, where we discuss more admissions strategies on YouTube or TikTok.

- Ryan

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For over 11 years, Ryan Kelly has guided hundreds of students towards acceptance into top colleges and graduate schools, with an emphasis on standing out while also staying true to themselves. Read more about Ryan here. Or book a free intro meeting with him here.

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