According to many admissions experts (Alision Cooper Chisolm and Anna Ivey) your application, should focus on you CORE FOUR. You should look at your whole application through that prism, and make sure every piece of your application in some way reflects on these four elements.
What are these:
Interests: These are your passions and the things you are truly interested in both inside and outside the classroom. What do you do with your time in and outside the classroom? This doesn’t necessarily need to be anything special or big. You don’t have to be playing chess or participate in science fairs all the time. Maybe it is walking outdoors, or studying Indonesian plants and herbs with your grandmother.
Talents: Have you developed your interests further and pursued your passion in any way? Have you challenged yourself, have you accomplished anything?
Initiative: This is another way of saying have you shown leadership or in any way done something to make things happen? Have you started something – a club, a project, a program. Have you done more than join or enroll in a class or program? Leadership as a concept is becoming more subtle – you don’t have the be the captain of the team, the project manager or student class leader. If you are, great; if not, do you have the skills to get things done, to work with others and move projects forward? Are you the one who organized an email list and put everybody together?
Impact: This is very important for an admission officers. You can look at this in two different ways. One way to understand impact is to know what impacted you and how? What has made a difference in your life? The other way to understand impact is to show if you have made a difference in someone else’s life, or if you have benefited others. Most colleges are looking for people who can make a difference, who are not just participants, but agents of change. If you have a passion and a talent but you don’t do anything to make a difference, colleges may be less impressed with you.
Keep the CORE FOUR in mind all the time while preparing your application. They need to be present at any one point somewhere in your application.