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  • Writer's pictureHarpal Kochar

How to spike the college App!

Your application should clearly communicate your “spike.” A spike, hook, etc. is a set of activities and accomplishments that show admissions officers what you are truly passionate about and what you bring to the table. Your spike can be pretty much anything - music, sports, math, journalism, entrepreneurship, programming, etc. Meeting the minimum threshold for academics/test scores will get your foot in the door, but your spike will make the admissions officers go to bat for you


It is vital that you demonstrate your spike with truly distinctive and colorful examples of your impact: Compete and excel in major competitions. Submit your work to well-known publications. Look for ways to quantitatively measure your impact (e.g., “Applied innovative strategies which increased membership of the dance team by 200%”) Think big and think deep

Having depth is more important than having breadth. Admissions officers strive to build a well-rounded freshman class, which doesn’t necessarily mean well-rounded individuals. You don’t need to be amazing at everything. You just need to have solid performance overall, and really shine in 1-2 areas

Your nonprofit and volunteer work will pack a bigger punch if you can weave them into your personal story/spike. For instance, someone with a passion for humanitarianism could organize a group from their church to send care packages or run homeless shelters in disaster-stricken areas. Someone with a science spike could create a non-profit that runs science fairs at elementary schools around the state. Someone with a music spike could arrange a monthly ensemble that teaches music to people in assisted living communities. Get creative! These activities can show greater depth than if you did something more run-of-the-mill like volunteering at a soup kitchen.

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