In case you’re new, let me refresh on the concept of boosts: they are specific achievements, accomplishments, bullet points on your resume and application that will guarantee admissions committees give your application a close look!
The logic goes: they have 20K, 30K, 50K applications to read, and they can only accept 2-3K students (at the Ivy Leagues, anyway). So how do they prioritize their time? Well, some of the more advanced adcoms have computer technology to filter and eliminate based on certain metrics like class rank, GPA, SAT score, etc. But most of them do a fast manual read to figure out which applications are definite yes’s, maybes, and definite no’s. In this manual read, they are often looking for what we call BOOSTS: things like a perfect score on the SAT math subject test, or a referral from an affiliated professor or faculty member.
Today’s boost #3, which should be somewhat obvious, is if you’re an award winner in a recognized national competition. Something like Boy’s State/Boy’s Nation, or the Google and Intel Science and Engineering Fairs (here’s a list of prestigious science competitions). This dovetails with our concept of spikes – basically, the idea that you need to be very good at a specific identifiable skill, instead of being “ok” at everything.
And winning or placing highly at a national competition is evidence of that spike, which is why it receives such preferential treatment from application readers. Even writing and essay competitions count, although here the bigger story you need to tell is why writing interests you, and how it relates to what you want to do on campus (eg, study creative writing, or publish a book).
Here was the previous essay on boosts. Good luck!
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