5 things you can do to boost your chance of admission

If you read this column regularly, then you already know what it takes to get into an elite international university, right? High SAT scores and a top ranking in your school, right?

Well sure, that certainly helps. But it’s not a guarantee. Remember the case of Li Jian, the Chinese student who was denied from every Ivy League school two years ago, despite having a top ranking in school and perfect 2400 SAT scores.

If you’re a boring student who won’t bring a unique perspective to campus, then you won’t get accepted. Here are five ways you can make sure that you stand out among all the other great students applying from Shenzhen.

1. Get a job!

You’d be surprised to learn how many American students get jobs while they are in high school, compared to few such Chinese students. Getting a job is an extremely honorable pastime and it shows admissions committees that you’re committed to success. Any job will do – serving food at a restaurant is a perfect choice. Plus, it will improve your chances of winning a scholarship.

2. Start a business

Hard to find a job? Even better would be to create your own job! Maybe it’s a dog-walking service for the people in your community. Maybe it’s website design service. Either way, if you can start a business, then you’ll show true leadership qualities that VERY few students have.

3. Study multiple languages

Most students don’t realize that the difference between a 100 TOEFL score and a perfect TOEFL score is nothing. A perfect score means you’re just as capable as the dumbest native speakers. So why not spend that time learning the basics of another language? It will doubly impress the admissions committee if you can claim to speak basic German or French.

4. Learn to write fiction

By fiction, I mean learn how to tell a story in English. I don’t mean you have to write a novel, but if you can learn the basics of storytelling, then your application essays will be twice as interesting, and will greatly boost your chance of admission. Visit my website (dotsonchina.com/education) for tons of resources on how to improve the quality of your writing.

5. Do something strange

What’s the worst thing you can appear as in your application? Normal. Normal is boring when it comes to applications! If you have a medium-level school ranking and a 1900-2000 SAT score, the single best thing you can do…is something crazy! Take a trip to a tiny Xinjiang village and write a story about it. Start a club that revolves around reading contemporary Chinese poetry. Start a rock band that only sings songs in Spanish. The more interesting you are, the more likely you will be remembered, and the more likely you’ll get accepted.

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