When students sit down to begin working on their college applications, most are intensely focused on just a single aspect of the process: the college essay. After all, top grades and test scores alone are never enough to gain admission into the nation’s more selective colleges and universities. It’s the essay that helps students distinguish themselves, right? While it’s true that stellar essays are critically important to colleges that evaluate their applicants holistically, there are three additional components of the Common Application that provide exceptional opportunities for students to stand out. Will it require more effort from students to enhance these sections of their applications? You betcha. But when thousands upon thousands of students are vying for a limited number of seats, it’s worth it.