This article was originally written for FirstGenerationStudent.com, now a part of ImFirst.org.

With the competition heating up for coveted spots at universities around the country, many students worry about their odds of being accepted by their dream schools. One of the most common questions we hear from aspiring college students – especially first generation students – is, “what can I do to stand out in my college applications?” We certainly have a few ideas of our own, but who better to offer advice than the college admissions officers reviewing applications year in, year out? That’s why we put together a new guide – The Dos and Don’ts of College Applications – featuring advice from over a dozen colleges and universities.

What You’ll Learn

We wanted to dig deep and understand admissions officers’ thoughts during each stage of the application process, so we approached them with questions from nine categories:

  1. How colleges review applications
  2. Why colleges reject applicants
  3. What to do if you didn’t (or couldn’t) take AP/honors classes
  4. How the SAT and ACT affect odds of admission
  5. How to write an awesome application essay
  6. How extracurricular activities and jobs are viewed
  7. Who to ask for letters of recommendation
  8. How to nail the college admission interview
  9. When and why colleges rescind admission

Each section provides a summary of what we learned, as well as the responses received from the schools interviewed. You’ll hear from Boston University, Vanderbilt, Colorado State, Michigan State, and many more, each offering a valuable perspective for students at all stages of the application process.

When you’re ready to get started, head over to the guide!

Want to share your own advice on how to stand out in college applications? Leave your feedback in the comments below!

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