India offers a multitude of options when it comes to higher education. Colleges, universities, and other educational institutes are to be found in every Indian town, big or small. Students jostle to crack the admissions process of top colleges in India. The competition among students is stiff - be it the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology, management courses in the highly ranked Indian Institutes of Management, engineering colleges, art, and social science courses in such institutes of international repute as JNU, Delhi or Delhi University.

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.

The creme de la creme of Indian students join the ranks of these spaces of education due to their structure of education and international recognition. Competition among colleges and universities is also reflected in their fee structures that is revised every few years. For example, the high fees at the Indian Institute of Management or the Indian Institute of Technology.

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In India, a college or a university is ranked based on a number of factors. | Source:Aurdur on Visual Hunt

For the above reasons, it is important for students to create unique applications that will stand out from the rest. What makes a perfect application? What are the components of an eye-catching application? Do extracurricular activities matter or academic excellence is sufficient for applicants? Should your resume include a list of employment to meet admissions requirements in a university? The answer is that an applicant can include all these and some more!

When it comes to college applications, academic competitions are the best of both worlds, showcasing students’ intellectual prowess and revealing their ability to work as part of a team.

Student competitions are another facet of your personality that admissions officers may be interested in. It is an opportunity for the applicant to demonstrate special skills and talent. Therefore, irrespective of whether you are applying at an IIT, the National Insitute of Information Technology or Delhi University, or even a lesser-known college with a lower rank in Tamil Nadu or Karnataka, it is advisable for students to build their resume for college by participating in competitions and activities in high school.

Importance of Participation in School Competitions

Competition may be one of the most contentious and misunderstood topics in education. Irrespective of whether you are appearing for the Joint Entrance Exams for an IIT (IT JEE) or the medical Joint Entrance Exams, the arts courses at Delhi University, an MBA education in one of the Indian Institutes of management or the life sciences at the Indian Institute of Science, a list of high school competitions in your application can make a big impression.

No matter how high your dream college or university is ranked in India, every course has its own set of competitions that admission officers love to see on an applicant's resume. Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai - wherever you go - competitions are skill builders in the life of students.

Teamwork and Collaboration

By the time they are in college or university, students are expected to exhibit maturity. Irrespective of whether they are enrolling in an engineering course or a technology course. One of the first signs of maturity is learning to work in teams and collaborating with peers. This is especially useful in management courses such as MBA.

Most team-based competitions are an eductaion in good communication, collaboration, and teamwork.

In competitions, such as team sports, or a science project, students are required to achieve a challenging task together through understanding their own skills and the strengths and weaknesses of other students.

Social and Emotional Learning

High school years are probably the most important and most enjoyable in students' lives. Prior to commencing university years, students can gain a better understanding of how to deal with conflicting circumstances, come out on top of them, and make some friends, in the process. 

Competitions teach students the important art of collaboration through which they can connect to others at a social and emotional level. We have probably found out best friends in life during our years in high school, just as we were preparing for college.

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Competitions in high school help to build self-confidence in students. | Source: Visual Hunt

Drive Motivation

Arts or management courses, science or technology education, all types of education is driven by students' motivation and their approach towards a course. By participating in school competitions, such as a science fair or a performing arts contest, students gain motivation because they find a purpose in the activities they perform. This, in turn, helps to enhance their motivation to do well in higher education by gaining admission to a top Indian college or university.

Beneficial Comparisons Among Peers

Competitions are also a great way to teach students throughout their many years in school that comparisons are not such a bad thing, after all! As competitions place an assigned value on a specific task and its achievement, students learn to respect those in school who achieve that task.

Top Summer Activities for High School Students to Pursue

Top off your application by including a list of activities to augment your chances of getting through the admissions procedure. Colleges that are highly ranked, be it in Chennai, Hyderabad, or Bangalore, and whether a private or government university, tend to read a lot into the list of extracurricular activities you include in your application. Here is a list of you can take up in high school that can help you create the perfect application before you face the litmus entrance test!

  • 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.
Competitions in schools help build up the strength of character and team spirit in students. | Source: Yogendra Singh on Unsplash

Get to Know Colleges and Universities

As we round up our discussion on competitions and how they contribute to an appealing college application, bear in mind these other considerations before you start applying to various courses. Do you wish to pursue a bachelor's course in business administration? Is your ultimate aim to graduate an MBA course from the Indian Institute of Management? Or, are you one for the social sciences and would love to enroll in a course in Delhi University or CHrist University in Bangalore?

Once you are about to finish high school, get ready to research the institutes of education that appeal to your interests. Visit the university admission portal of various universities. Create a list, revise it, and create another, shorter list until you have a compact list of 1 or 2 colleges as your top picks. Remember, there will be variations in the course structure across colleges.

Colleges love to see collaboration, so try to spend your summer working with others versus only on solo projects.

Check out the courses on offer on the university admission portal. Research what the requirements of a course are. Also, spend ample time thinking about your career choice - medical, engineering, information technology, management studies, physical science, or the social sciences - there are a number of different courses that Indian universities offer nowadays.

Once you have completed your research of courses, check out what the requirements for them are. Each college and university will have slightly different requirements. For example, some universities may ask for 1 or 2 years of relevant job experience in your chosen course of study, while others will be happy with your academic achievements.

Finally, if possible, visit the college campuses to get a feel of campus life. Who knows, you might fall in love with the red brick structures and the natural beauty of a place like JNU, or the organized township that is Delhi University North Campus. These will help you decide better.

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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.