Beyond Letters and Numbers – Get Active and Be Personal!
Despite what you might think, college admission isn’t just a numbers game. Two other factors in the admission process may prove just as helpful as good grades and test scores: your extracurricular activities and your personal essay.
Grades and test scores could open a college door, but activities and essays might be what ushers you through it. If a college is deciding between two equally qualified candidates, it will most likely pick the student who’s been involved in activities or written a compelling essay.
Extracurricular And Community Activities: Spend Your Time Meaningfully
With regard to extracurriculars colleges don’t care which activities you choose or how many. In fact too many activities may call into question your motives (did you participate in dozens of clubs just because it would look good on your college application?).
Instead of joining every organization you can dedicate yourself to your unique interests. Colleges will look more favorably upon you if you’ve devoted meaningful time to a few extracurricular activities rather than devoting a minimal amount of time to many. (And no you don’t have to have won something or be in a leadership role in order to devote meaningful time to your activities.)
Personal Essays: Your Chance To Captivate The Admission Committee’s Attention
Your activities interests and personal circumstances may prove useful when sitting down to write your essay. Unlike scores that only demonstrate your knowledge the essay is the one section in your application where you get to be yourself. This is your opportunity to show what you’re really made of or to relate an experience or situation that isn’t apparent on your transcript.
The essay is also a good place to reveal personal circumstances that might have contributed to your grades not being as high as they should have been. Remember however that your essay shouldn’t be a lengthy excuse but rather a forthright explanation of what happened followed by some thoughtful reflection. What did you learn from the experience and how did it help you grow and mature?
When writing the essay start with your passions and interests and be original. According to Todd White director of admission at Cornell College admission counselors want to know who you are not what you think they want to hear. Write in the tone or style you’re most comfortable with. If you’re funny add humor to your essay. If you’re more comfortable with an academic tone use that to your advantage.
If you’re not a stellar test-taker or your grades aren’t what you hoped they’d be don’t despair. You can still impress the folks in admission with your proven dedication demonstrated through your activities and your strength of character revealed in your essay.