By Vicki BottaA successful college application is not based on grades alone and is not created in a day. What many students don’t realize is that they are building the foundation of a good college application with each experience and skill they gather along the way. Yes, grades are important, but so are good communication skills, the ability to follow instructions and how to be neat and concise. Matt Frey, Director of Media Relations at Mount St. Mary's College in Newburgh said, "Grades are important, but they are not the only thing. We're very into community volunteerism so in addition to grades and extra curricular activities, we look at a student's volunteer experience."It is important to create a portfolio over the course of years that includes a balance of experiences showing what you are capable of offering and that you can work towards achieving long term goals. Don’t wait until application time to realize you should have done more. And Matt Frey said, "Make sure you get another pair of eyes to look it over because as much as you think you have it perfect, someone else can always see how something could be improved or catch something you may have missed."Learn a musical instrument and participate in orchestra, band or chorusPlay a sport, whether it is golf, baseball, field hockey, volleyball, swimming, soccer or football.Volunteer; at the library, Humane Society, hospital, senior center or therapeutic riding facilityRun for student governmentCompete on an academic teamParticipate in the theater productions whether you act or work behind the scenesTutor younger studentsWork at a campIf you take martial arts, stick with itIf you are in scouting or 4H, stick with it.Consider joining the National Honor SocietyParticipate in either Debate or Mock TrialJoin the Yearbook Staff or School NewspaperColleges are impressed with not only the wide range of experience and participation but where your passions lie and if you can honor long term commitments, assume leadership roles. The college application is a crucial part of crossing the threshold into the college of your choice. According to www.campusexplorer.com 10 tips of advice include:1. Apply Early; be one of the first read before the applications pileup on admissions desks.2. Complete the entire application; Take time and carefully double-check each section.3. Include all extracurricular activities; see above4. Be Neat and Organized; try to avoid misspellings, grammatical errors and errors of syntax. Technical errors show carelessness and sloppiness. Have a friend or family member proofread your application before sending.5. Avoid Fluff and Filler on your essay; Avoid redundancy, and make sure sentences are clear and concise. Answer questions directly and in a way that conveys who you are as a person and why you want to go to that particular school.6. Dazzle with Creativity; Have fun with your essay without being fluffy. Show off your skills and confidence while being tactful, appropriate and inoffensive. 7. Be Original; Don’t speak in cliché’s i.e. “reach for the stars” etc. Demonstrate originality by using your own words and unique ideas that reflect your own personal experiences.8. Honesty is best policy; Don’t hurt your chances by embellishing or stretching the truth. Admission officers check claims. Refrain from getting someone else to write your essay or fill out your application. Cheating is unethical.9. Make a checklist; to avoid forgetting to send essential documents; include high school transcripts, SAT/SAT II/ACT test scores and all letters of recommendation as needed. Make sure you take all the necessary tests early enough to have results in time to send with application.10. Get Awesome Recommendation Letters; Approach teachers, coaches or administrators who know you best well in advance to give them time to write well thought out letters in time to meet your deadlines.Research the grade and test score requirements for the college(s) of your choice before applying.