Well-rounded is out

July 31, 2006 at 1:01 am Leave a comment

Posted by Dee

Several years ago, the whole “well-rounded student” thing was definitely a la mode. Now, colleges don’t want to see kids that are good at or interested in a bunch of topics. Instead, they want to see the “well-lopsided student.”

You have to really own this college trend. Be very aware of this for everything you do, from the AP classes you take to the extracurriculars you pursue. You’re going to need to justify to your interviewers and in your essays and the app in general, the one, maybe two things you are passionate about. And, the quirkier the better. I’ve heard of people getting into top schools because they’re obsessed with opera — meaning that their classes in school focus on music, literature, or art, their extracurriculars focus on vocal development, and in their free time, they travel near and far to see another Wagner or Verdi. Nowadays, good luck if you’re trying to get in based on reading tech magazines, while taking AP English and History but not taking AP Computer Science, playing the flute in the school band, and being a part of the Gay-Straight Alliance. Instead, focus!

For some of you, these college trends are a blessing, for others, it is a nightmare. I am part of the latter group, I must admit — I’ve always been a person who has loved exploring many topics and interests, and while that’s great, I’m learning to accept that it’ll be much easier to get into a top school being able to pinpoint particular interests and then showing how my courses and extracurriculars enhance that.

For another example that’s not quite as dramatic or niche as opera: If you were interested in studying economics in college, have a high school academic curriculum that has more of a focus on history, math, and english over science. If you’re choosing between joining drama club and politics club, go with politics. Even when you’re looking at community service or jobs or internships, do not just go with babysitting or working in an old folks home, really try to find something that will go along with the idea that your interested in economics. Intern for an econ professor at the local community college or for an business writer at the local paper.

There are plenty of other examples, and there are plenty of other ideas for activities and curriculums that can help you focus on being more well-lopsided. Here are the categories you should focus on making lopsided:

1. High school academic curriculum — make sure you are not all over the place with your course choices. The general requirements needed for graduation usually let you do enough exploring. Once you’ve found what you’re interested in, take AP classes and electives that focus on that topic.
2. Clubs — join at least one club at school that focuses on your passion. If there isn’t already an established club on your topic, form your own club.
3. Extracurricular activities
4. Jobs/Internships/Community Service — you should find a job or project that has to do with what you want to pursue. Don’t succumb to the average teen job; really make an effort to find an activity that contributes to showing just how passionate you are about the topic you want to pursue.

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Entry filed under: Academics, College trends, Extracurricular activities, School clubs.

Established vs. new clubs An uncommon app with the Common App

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