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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s the time of year when high school students begin preparing college applications but will they be touting qualifications that will actually stand out? New research says “no. ”

But there are some ways to keep your kid’s application from ending up in the trash.

As if high school isn’t hard enough, Penncrest High School seniors Tanner Daggy and Jessica Davis are also busy applying to college.

“It’s months and months of writing essays and getting recommendations,” said Daggy.

“A lot of effort goes into one student’s application from a lot of different people,” said guidance counselor Lori Rice-Spring

“There’s really no set formula for what you’re supposed to do,” said Davis.

“The whole college admissions process, the application process, everything has changed dramatically,” said math teacher Deann Schere.

Scherer is also the school’s advisor for the National Honor Society and says getting into college isn’t what it used to be.

“A lot of people think that it’s just the GPA or it’s just the SAT score, but getting into the college of your choice goes well beyond that,” said Scherer

The majority of college admission officers said extra-curricular activities gives students a competitive edge. They’re most impressed by students who volunteer in their community.

“One of the college application questions was, ‘what can you add to our community?’” said Davis.

“Think carefully about do you want to do a variety of small services that you know take smaller amounts of time or do you want to have one long term service that you do,” said Shere.

“I go to a local hospital and I volunteer to assist with transporting patients,” said Daggy.

“I organize benefit concerts,” said Davis,

But can they spell?

Forty-five percent of admissions officers said they’ll instantly deny an application if it contains spelling errors, grammatical mistakes or typos!

Davis says she’s tried her best

“You kind of just hope that you’re well prepared enough to make yourself look as good as you can in every category,” said Davis.

Another bit of advice is to get help early.

A majority of college admission officers recommend that students start preparing as early as ninth grade.