We understand how stressful it is to be in high school: GPAs, SATs, ACTs, extra-curricular activities, homework, part-time jobs, friends, family, and ominous due dates. The looming question of where you want to go to college and what path is right for you is never-ending.
Your brain is jam-packed with more facts, dates and algorithms than seems possible. Then you throw in the constant stream of social media, maybe a girlfriend or boyfriend vying for attention, and voila! You’ve got a pressure cooker where your brain should be!
We know from experience the great importance placed on the letters and numbers when you’re in high school. Class rank, GPA, and AP classes all are significant—as if they determine the rest of your entire life.
We are here to tell you that the numbers will not be what defines you…
In a study conducted in 2011 by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, it was found that 26.6% of polled universities and colleges placed “considerable importance” (the highest level of importance on the survey) on the written essay. 23% of institutions said the student’s demonstrated interest in the college was also of considerable importance.
What is most important to not lose sight of, is that colleges care about much more than the sum of the numbers. Sure it’s important to get good grades and do your work on those pesky required standardized tests, but remember, the world, (and admissions offices!) want to see who YOU are, as a person. With more and more colleges placing importance on your interests and essays, our advice is to get your head out of the vice, and get out into the world. Learn and experience a thing or two that isn’t being taught in the classroom.
That means you will have to spend some time and do as Howard Thurman instructed and ask yourself an important question…
What makes you come alive? What sparks something within you?
What helps define you? What moves you?
What’s important to you as a human being?
Are you a young person who is inspired by caring for the environment or wildlife and making sure it exists for the next generation? Do you find great satisfaction in working and giving to others who have been affected by natural disaster, HIV-AID’s or educational challenges? Are you someone who is inspired by the challenge of climbing a mountain or crossing a country in the most awe-inspiring surroundings on the planet?
Summer is the best opportunity to spend some quality time getting to know yourself and what it is that you care about. Not working to fill the blank pages a collection of accolades to satisfy what you think will get you into the next Ivy League school. Instead take some time to stop, breathe and explore what is authentic and genuine to who you are as a growing young adult…Ask yourself the question “what makes you come alive?” Then ask yourself “what do I want from a college?”
Research, how does the institution fit for you? What institutions have quality programs that will support you in your area of interest if you have defined one? Where do you see yourself living happily? Do the schools in that geographic region offer programs/courses that are of interest to you?
Then show your interest in these places, write the admissions offices, schedule time if you can and visit, sit down and find out more from an admissions representative.
When the time comes to write your essay, take a deep breath, and go inside (and we don’t mean the house). Speak to your experiences, interests, and passions. What’s important to you? That will fuel your best writing.
We promise, you wont regret it, and you wont miss anything by taking the risk. It may provide you with just the clarity you need. And, the world will thank you for it later.