Leveraging Your Swiss Hook

Hello/Bonjour/Guten Morgen!

Looking to study in the States? Be sure to leverage your ‘Swiss Hook.’

In the college admissions world, a ‘Hook’ means as a special quality that makes an application stand out, such as:

  1. A Sports Hook for an impact athlete
  2. A Legacy Hook for a student whose parent is an alumnus/a
  3. An International Hook for a student who brings a global perspective to a campus

And that’s exactly what we have our Swiss students highlight: the unique “United Nations” appeal of a student who speaks two or three languages – or more – and the special international perspective that certain American universities are eager to welcome to their campuses. That’s the Swiss Hook we counsel our students to emphasize, whether they come from a Geneva day school or a boarding school in the mountains.

So how do we leverage this Swiss Hook?

At McMillan Education we leverage our students’ Swiss Hook by:

  • Highlighting the rigor of their International Baccalaureate or maturité degree
  • Advising them to take certain SAT II Subject Tests in foreign languages
  • Focusing on specific stories in essays to display a special international background. Top students compose over 20 essays – check out this article on creative essay writing from the NY Times

But then there are some factors our Swiss students need to ‘catch up on’ relative to the US students vying for the same spots at these top colleges. So our college counseling includes:

  • Identifying early on which standardized testing route is best: SAT, ACT, Test Flexible (SAT II Subject Tests), or Test Optional
  • Bolstering extracurricular and leadership opportunities. Attending a brief summer program on a US campus is a great way to do this

How do we work so closely with students from so far away?

  • We’ve worked with students from around the world for decades
  • Never has it been easier thanks to Skype, WhatsApp and FaceTime
  • We come to Switzerland twice a year to meet face to face with our students
  • Most students end up visiting Boston, since we have 35 universities!

Sure, there are other key factors in the crazy US Admissions Landscape, such as:

  • Early Decision and Early Action: Getting an Admissions Edge
  • Ivy League vs. Little Ivy vs. Public Ivy: Which Offer the Best Chances for Internationals?

If you’re looking to find a great university match in the US, some critical initial takeaways are:

  • Start early
  • Leverage your Swiss Hook
  • Compose a series of polished essays
  • “Catch up” in extracurriculars
  • Cast a Wide Net including colleges that give an edge to Europeans

Good Luck/Bonne Chance/Viel Glück

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