REF: EB/NL/21/21-22 DATE: 5th July 2021
THE GOLDEN RULE FOR COLLEGE APPLICATION
“What do college admission officers look for in an application?” is a very common question all students ask. It all comes down to the golden rule; Admission officers look for students with exceptional potential who will become successful leaders.
But how do you classify a student of exceptional potential? We’ve narrowed it down to three categories:
Category #1 – Academic Achievement
Category #2 – Extracurricular Distinction
Category #3 – Character & Personal Qualities
In this newsletter we shall discuss the Extracurricular Distinction that the officers look for.
Why Colleges Like Students with Extracurricular Activities?
Impressive Extracurricular activities show colleges a wide range of a student’s aspects and characteristics that form a positive impression, such as being willing to learn new skills or work with others as a team.
When a student is actively involved in the community and other activities in high school, there is a good chance that they will be doing something similar in college. So, you definitely don’t want to leave blank space for this part!
But does that mean that you need to spend all your time doing something that is obviously impacting your community in a direct way, like volunteer work?
Should you do something that doesn’t interest you, just because it will look good on your application? As it turns out, what you do is not nearly as important as why and how you are doing it.
Here 3 things that the admissions officer look for in extracurricular activities
Are you just doing an activity so you have something to write on your college application? Or are you just doing it because you don’t have another option? This is something that matters a lot to the college admissions officer, who wants to be certain that you’re pursuing something because it’s your passion. Genuine passion can’t be faked.
Try to find activities that you really care about. Those that make you feel more motivated, and a better person. The Admissions office is impressed when students are passionate about a certain activity, because it means they are more likely to continue doing it in college, and also because these kinds of activities show who you are at your best. These activities will be the prime indicators of how you act when motivated and dedicated to something.
Martha Allman, Dean of Admissions at Wake Forest University claims, “In general, colleges seek depth of involvement rather than breadth; therefore, we advise students to focus time and attention on a few activities in which they excel.”
Leadership is a vital skill and attribute in today’s world. Every organization, whether commercial, non-profit, religious, educational or volunteer in nature depends on leaders. Leadership experience includes any period that you have been responsible for a project, or guiding, motivating, or instructing others.
Colleges are looking for applicants with leadership experience and demonstrable leadership skills. If you can demonstrate through involvement in extracurricular activities that you’re a leader, it will go a long way towards getting you into the college of your choice.
If you’ve been the captain, leader, president or founder of, let’s say a sports team or the editor of your school newspaper, the admissions office will want to hear more about that. They want leaders who want to attend their college. They know that leaders are an asset when it comes to having a respected and innovative student body.
Here’s an example of poor leadership. Bill is president of the Spanish club. The Spanish club meets once a week in the Spanish teacher’s room for lunch. This activity is relatively valueless on the college application. Now if Bill were to develop this into a lunch-time exchange program, for example, with another school that has a lot of native Spanish-speaking ESL students, then this activity would suddenly have “impact” and Bill would be acting as a real leader.
One of the reasons that passion is so important is because admission officers want to see that you have made a significant investment in an activity over an extended period of time. Whether time spent on an involvement has been growth-producing, productive or meaningful.
- Made a difference? (e.g., doubled the number of students involved in a community service activity, made a difference in others’ lives)
- Completed or contributed to a worthwhile end product or cause? (e.g., created a new website for your school or activity, organized a speaking series at your school around issues of women and leadership)?
- Learned something, or developed a skill or talent? (e.g., became an expert about fireflies, gained fluency in Chinese, or learned to be a first-rate improviser)?
- Reached a goal? (e.g., founder of a new book club, president of the debate team)
Why does impact matter? Again, colleges are most interested in students who have the potential to be making positive differences on campus, and later, in the world. This kind of thing doesn’t come easily. It usually only happens when someone shows dedication, follow-through, and initiative.
Coming up in the next newsletters:
- Do’s & Don’t of extra-curricular
who are studying or have completed their studies and may wish to share their
experiences about how extracurricular activities helped them in their college
admission or securing a job, are welcome to write to us.
Please contact the Education Admin Secretary on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Africa Federation Education Board