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Imagine if you had 60 seconds to convince the head of admissions at your dream school that you were the ideal candidate and a perfect fit. What would you say?

Would you just simply list the achievements that you’ve accomplished, speaking as fast as you could in order to get as much out as possible? Would you start crying and tell him or her that if you didn’t get accepted, your life would be over? Or would you spend some time thinking about a witty one-liner, blowing the person away with a 10-second retort that will make it memorable.

Getting prepared for your university application has to start early. Candidates need about three to four years to build up a stellar resume suitable for ivy-league schools. Competition is getting harder with children getting smarter and therefore, your academics or standard test scores alone are simply not going to be enough.

Many colleges for both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees expect you to write a personal statement of sorts in order to get in. Something that will make you stand out and truly show off your personal brand. Highlight activities that you have done outside of school. Things like internships, volunteer stints, job-shadowing and community work all play an important role in highlighting you as a well-rounded person – someone who actually understands the career path they are planning and someone who has learned about empathy, teamwork, leadership and communication skills in a work setting. Let them get to know the person that you are and the values that you hold dear.

You also want to show the admissions officers that you will be a net-contributor to the schools’ community and a good role model as a future alumnus. Show them that you will work to add value to the school.

Be clear of why you’ve chosen a school and be ready to demonstrate the effort you have taken to research on lecturers, core curriculum, student unions of the school and exchange opportunities offered. They want to know that you have a clear idea of what you’re getting yourself into, and of course, they want to know that you think their school is the best for you.

Once you get all your information together, remember to check your work. Grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, colloquial language and abbreviated words are not going to get you accepted. And then, when it’s all submitted, cross your fingers and hope for the best but remember to constantly check your email and SPAM folders for a reply.

Good luck with your aspiration!