By Nayana MacMillan
When I decided to apply to McIntire, I remember reading over the application several times and wondering what would make me an attractive candidate among the nearly 600 other qualified applicants. The application process can often be stressful and overwhelming, and as ambassadors, we are often asked how to write a standout application, so I would like to share my top three application tips.
- Showcase your interests in your coursework and in your extracurricular activities. It is a common myth that you need to be involved in Comm-related student organizations and clubs to gain admission to McIntire. About one-half of McIntire students did not participate in a Comm CIO (Contracted Independent Organization) when applying, including myself. The admissions committee already knows that you are interested in pursuing Comm just based on your application, so use the activities section as an opportunity to showcase your true passions and interests. If you are passionate about one of the Comm organizations, you should absolutely join and discuss it in your application, but do not feel as though this is something you need to include in your application. Instead, make sure that each activity you include highlights something different about you–perhaps you have demonstrated leadership by organizing a club event or captaining your club sports team, or maybe you volunteer regularly at Madison House and are passionate about community service. It will be much easier to write about a commitment you genuinely enjoy, and this passion will shine through on the application. This goes for coursework as well–take classes in subject areas that interest you. McIntire emphasizes a strong liberal arts foundation, so take the opportunity to experience classes that span diverse topics, and ensure that you have a balance of quantitative and non-quantitative classes.
- Demonstrate your soft skills and any leadership experience you have had. Use the activities section to show what your grades and numerical feats cannot. Think about what skills you possess that would be valuable in a team-oriented, collaborative environment. Talk about any leadership positions you have held and how these roles have allowed you to develop. A common misconception here is that you have to serve as the president or vice president of all of the clubs you list. However, leadership can be any initiative you undertook, for example, planning a new event for the club to host, raising funds for the organization, or recruiting new members.
- Be specific and authentic in your essay–do not fall into the trap of vagueness. The essay is arguably one of, if not the, most important component of your application. This is the one area in which you get the opportunity to tell the admissions committee who you are and how you will uniquely contribute to the McIntire community. In the essay, I would encourage you to think about what background, skills, or life experience you bring to the table that are both relevant to you and the essay prompt. Consider if a family member or close friend read the application without knowing it was yours, would they be able to attribute it to you? That should give a good indication of whether your essay is distinctive enough to make it stand out. Use specific and brief examples to back up your qualifications whenever you can. By linking your stated skill to a tangible and detailed experience from your life, you can establish a more personal connection with the reader and make your application far more memorable.
I hope that these tips are useful, and best of luck with the application!