The Greer Meister Group

Strategic Storytelling for College Applications

How to write so that your dream college says YES!


Let’s demystify the overwhelming, ambiguous process of writing for college applications.


What is strategic storytelling and how does it impact college applications?

Strategic storytelling means crafting the most impactful version of your personal story so that it inspires college admissions officers to say yes.

By using strategy in your storytelling, you will be able to subtly and easily move the officers to take the action that you desire: admitting you to the college of your dreams.

It’s not about pretending to be someone you’re not or signing up for activities that don’t actually interest you just because someone told you they look good on a resume. It’s about strategically connecting the existing pieces of your own story to make it easy for a college to admit you.

Admissions officers want you to be an easy acceptance. Their job is to fill an incoming class with the right students, and they want to get the job done. But the average admissions officer has thousands of applications to read, and as much as he would like to take the time to get to know every applicant intimately, he has only three minutes to read each application. It’s not his fault, and it’s not yours, but if you don’t tell your story strategically, he isn’t going to have the time to sort through your materials and put it together for himself. You have the grades, test scores, and character to qualify for the school, but so do thousands of other applicants.

How will you stand out?

Strategic storytelling is the difference between rejection and admission.

Colleges are looking for students who demonstrate:
  1. Depth of commitment
  2. Longevity of commitment
  3. Pursuit of your interest in a way that connects it to something greater than yourself
  4. National or international recognition

Imagine that you’re a high school junior. You’re a straight-A student at a well-regarded high school, and you have an ACT or SAT score that puts you in the top 95% of applicants. Let’s also imagine that you don’t have anything in your college application that makes you stand out on a national or international level, such as a role on Broadway or an Olympic medal. You’ve participated in one or two school theater productions each year in high school, and you wrote a one-act play that was produced in the annual school theater festival. You’ve paid to travel on organized summer volunteer programs only to learn that highly-selective colleges may view those programs as a way to pay to pad your resume.

If you aren’t strategic about how you convey it all, you won’t stand out. You need to develop a strategic story that connects seemingly disparate interests and experiences so that you demonstrate at least three of the four qualities above.

If you’ve been training in archery since you were three years old, and you won a medal in the last Olympics, you’ve demonstrated all four traits, and it won’t take much strategy to share your story clearly and compellingly. On the other hand, if you’ve trained in archery since the age of three, but you’ve competed exclusively on school teams and never leveraged your interest in archery as way to help anyone other than yourself and your teammates, do you stand out? Not without a strategic story.

Discover your strategic story. Don’t let it pass by in a morass of statistics like straight-As and high standardized test scores that won’t set you apart in a highly-accomplished pool of applicants. A student who doesn’t take a strategic approach to telling his or her story can easily appear scattered and uncommitted, which would lead to rejection by your dream college. Instead, let’s connect your experiences by telling a strategic story that inspires the admissions offers to say: “Yes!” and offer you admission to your dream school.