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US universities hero

How to help your child get into a top US university

20 February 2017

Applying to universities in the US has changed over the years. What used to be a competition of measurable grades and test scores is now an evaluation of transferrable skills. Find out what American universities are seeking and what your child can do to stand out.

  • US universities traits

The criteria for ideal candidates at some of the leading US universities has changed over the years. Applications at top universities have surged in 2016 to record numbers making competition even more difficult.

Ethan Hildreth, Nord Anglia Education’s newest educationalist based in Abu Dhabi, has some words of wisdom for students applying to American universities. After working as a teacher, principal, and superintendent in the United States for over 25 years, Ethan knows what it takes to shine in a sea of qualified students.

In his article, Top 5 Student Traits Sought by US Universities, Ethan goes into detail about what qualities admissions officers are seeking in prospective students. While grades and test scores offer some insight into a student’s accomplishments, admissions departments are seeking the full picture of what else students have to offer. Universities like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT have indicated on their admissions websites that they are seeking more than just good marks—they are seeking character and skills likely to carry an individual forward to future success.

"Go out of your way to find projects, activities and experiences that stimulate your creativity and leadership, that connect you with peers and adults who bring out your best, that please you so much you don't mind the work involved," states the MIT admissions website.

Likewise, the admissions page on the Harvard website indicates that school administrators are interested in a student's growth potential, interests, and character.

Resiliency, creativity, passion, thinking and leadership are just some of the traits that admissions departments say they seek. The sorts of programmes that schools offer to incite self-directed learning are key to tapping into these hidden talents.

To ensure that your child is getting involved in the right activities, find out whether or not your child is capitalising on all the programmes your school has to offer. These extracurricular activities can make all the difference in evoking your child’s curiosity, creativity, and passion during the most formative years of their life.