The current lockdown in India has resulted in education taking a backseat. For many students, the prospect of an uncertain future is creating ripples of panic. However, life in lockdown is also an opportunity to explore your options in higher education, especially if you are finishing high school this year. Read on to find out what you need to get into one of the top colleges in India.

Tips to Boost Your Chances During College and University Admissions

India is a diverse land with a massive potential for a plethora of educational opportunities. India has universities and institutes that cater to myriad branches of education - technology, science, languages, history, and visual and performing arts, and many more.

The first step for a university aspirant is to decide the field of study - technology or physical sciences, social sciences, or engineering. In case you are torn between two subjects, try your hand in extracurricular activities in both subjects. However, if you haven't the slightest clue, then start by building a solid academic background with life skills, general knowledge, and specific knowledge about the university you wish to apply to.

JNU University
Top universities in India, like JNU, stress on quality applications. | Source:

Get Involved with the Top Universities

University rankings in India are based on a multitude of factors. The states compete for this recognition and the competition is quite stiff. For example, a Delhi University application will be different from that of Pune University or Kerala University.

Follow a University Lecture Series Online

Higher education in India has received a boost with the ubiquity of online education. With universities and institutes with the top rank leading the way, there are now available many online lectures, some even for free, for interested students.

Familiarize Yourself with the Application Process

Usually, the website of a university, irrespective of its ranking, is sufficient to find information related to the process of applying and admissions. You can also speak to your school teachers, national and international students at the university you want to apply for to gather more information on the application details.

Curate Your Personal Statement

Be it the social sciences, agricultural science, engineering or technology courses, universities in India, old or new, will ask you to list your reasons for applying to their university. This is your personal statement, stating why you have chosen the subject and the university. A personal statement should not be too lengthy nor too short that it appears abrupt.

Letters of Recommendation

Admission to higher education courses in India is also sometimes determined by how good your referrals are. You can get a letter of recommendation from a former school teacher, or your graduation teacher. Whoever it may be, do not rush.

Extracurricular activities may include sports, arts, debate, clubs, and other interesting activities. | Source: Keith Johnston from Pixabay

Do Extracurricular Activities Matter During College Admission?

For students, extracurricular activities are an important part of college applications. During the evaluation of an application, students are assessed not just based on their academic achievements but also on the things they choose to pursue outside of the classroom. College admissions get a boost when you apply with a resume that reflects a holistic personality in a way that your grades and test scores can’t show.

Extracurricular Activities Depend on Students

Not just the school or university department that determines the extracurricular activities, students themselves are also responsible for making their individual profile stand out. For many students, extracurricular activities form the core of their applications, while for other applicants, it's their academic prowess.

Exuding Passion

Universities love passionate students. On their part, make sure you have one entry, instead of a multitude, in your application that reflects this.

Leadership Skills

Leaders are always at the vanguard of social, economic, political, as well as personal change stories. As colleges and universities are spaces for developing and creating the leaders of tomorrow, they want applications from students to reflect initiative. Leadership qualities can be inculcated at a young age, in your high school, or even at an entry-level job prior to your university application.

Creating Impact

Has your extracurricular activity made a difference in any domain or a community of people? Have you improved on your said activity since the time you gained entry into the sphere? Have you been able to solve a problem that may have arisen during an activity?

These are some of the questions which students can ask themselves to determine whether their extracurricular activities have created an impact in any capacity - personal or community-wise.

Involvement in Sports and school activities build competitive spirit. | Source: Unsplash

School Activities and Competitions to Boost Your College Admissions

Students jostle to crack the admissions process of top colleges in India. The competition among students is stiff. Even among colleges, universities, and other educational institutes, the competition to admit the best and most qualified students is quite high. According to the latest Indian university ranking 2020, educational institutes such as the IIT or the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi are leading the way.

Top Summer Activities for High School Students to Pursue

  • Specialized high school programs are often conducted by the Indian Institutes of Technology all across India, in Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka, West Bengal, Punjab, and so on. These competitions are a real blessing for aspiring students of engineering and technology who not only get to test out their ideas but also demonstrate their entrepreneurial and leadership skills.
  • Follow an online lecture series offered by college professors.
  • Get a research assistantship at an IIT or technology institutes. Interact with professors and give yourself a headstart on your chosen field of study.
  • Get creative and start your own project. Students can start a newspaper or a magazine, especially if they are enrolling in Mass Communication or journalism courses. This also gives students the chance to practice their writing skills which will come in handy as they write their college applications.
  • Get job experience. Although this may not be part of the admissions requirements, some years of work experience always tell admission officers that you are someone who takes initiative and responsibility. Students can also apply for internships, although most of them are unpaid.
  • Volunteer in your community or participate in social work. This is an activity that has ever failed to appeal to college admission officers. Applicants are considered responsible and compassionate citizens if their applications include a list of social work. For example, you can volunteer at an old age home or a community kitchen.
university application
Your application should highlight your all-round achievements. | Source: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Guide to Cracking University Admission in India

Start your college application process - undergraduate or postgraduate, national, or international colleges - with a dose of authenticity. Beyond the grades obtained in your school-leaving exams, before you start to apply your mind to fill out the application form, including all the extracurricular activities, keep in mind that colleges and universities in India value transparency in students. Admission officers reviewing your application form should be able to get a clear idea about the person behind the application.

Write and Apply

Now that you have decided which course you want to pursue, for example, an undergraduate course in English from Delhi University, and gathered all the necessary details of the course and information on the date of applying, prepare to apply.

This is probably the hardest but also the most fun part of a college application. Here are some useful tips to keep in mind while filling up the form and writing out your personal statement.

Understand the Question and Structure Your Responses

Don't try too hard. AS a student, you are not expected to be perfect, only truthful. When you decide to apply to a college and meet their admission requirements too, be ready to be honest. Read through each age of the application form and try to answer in concise sentences that convey your thoughts and ideas, and facts. 

Avoid 1-Line Paragraph

Applicants find it tempting to leave a 1-liner about themselves. After all, painstakingly going through each page of the application form can be tedious! However, the admissions committee will not be impressed.

Ask your career counselor if s/he has a resume guide
Start building your resume for college from the time you are in high school. | Source: Pixabay

How to Improve Resume for Jobs Before Applying to Colleges and Universities

Your university application should list out your best and most relevant education and job skills, job experience (if any), and any other relevant skills that will make your application stand out. A good college application will also provide an account of why you are interested in applying to that university.

Is Work Experience Valued in the Admission Process?

In the cover letter of your application, include your statement of purpose and explain why you chose to apply at the particular university. However, statistics for the top 3 IIMs reveals that the admission process is not at all about work experience, but about the presentation of skills, overall performance in academics, and aptitude for education.

Selection Criteria

Interviewers usually include the following parameters in their evaluation of a student at the time of admission, be it a graduate or a post-graduate with an impressive employment record:

  • Communication skills
  • Attitude
  • Professionalism
  • General approach and attitude towards life and lifestyles

A student will also benefit from his/her past academic records, including their performance in the Board exams (across education Boards), and graduation scores, CAT score, performance in GDPIs, and Essay Writing (WAT) skills.

No academic achievement is small. Include every last one of them in your resume, old and new to create high chances of selection. Make use of all your entrepreneurial skills into making your application the crown jewel of all university applications!

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Shreyanjana is an archaeologist who ironically finds the written word to be the most powerful means of storytelling. A travel buff and a photography enthusiast, she has been writing and sharing stories of all sorts ever since she can remember.