It is the college application season and students around the world are gearing up for the frenzied rush to apply to the school of their dreams. Hovering ever present in the back of their minds is the question of what colleges want. They feel that if they just work hard enough through high school and then nail it in their application, the college will welcome them with open arms. They reach the final stages exhausted, burned out, and beat up.
Normally these kids have in mind specifics: a certain number of perfect AP scores, a huge number of volunteer hours, a near perfect SAT score, a national extracurricular win, demonstrated leadership, a Congressional Gold Award, etc.
It is true that colleges are looking for something, but that something is not a specific. In fact, it is very general.
A few weeks ago I was in the Boston area visiting with admissions officers at top tier colleges. One officer tried to rectify a prevalent myth. She stressed that college is not a merit award for high school done well. What she wants to know is if the student will continue to be a contributor.
In fact, if a student is really interesting and has a lot to offer, an Ivy League school will overlook a single SAT section that is below 700. They reject more perfect scores than they accept. Admissions officers put more weight on the transcript than on testing. Here’s the takeaway.
- Students need to spend their high school years doing things that matter to them, not what they think colleges want to see.
- There are some minimums for classes, tests, and the like, but hitting the maximums is not necessarily going to make them a better candidate.
- It is better in every respect to live an authentic life and just be real in the application. Trying to be impressive or fit a mold will backfire every time.
- While it is important to do their best on tests, it is more important that they love to learn. They should follow their hearts, explore interesting things above and beyond class, and take rigorous classes that are fascinating instead of classes for the easy “A.”
- Because the process is so elusive, students need to hold their college choices lightly. We do our best on the applications and then release them knowing that God will direct our steps.
Come see us in Seattle!
August 28 2-3 p.m, Wednesday
FREE Q & A Session
Fountain Court Apartments Common Room
2400 4th Ave.
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