The Struggle for Academic Perfection:
Trying to Become the College Admissions “Ideal, Well-Rounded” Student
“Here is the ultimate guide to getting into the top college of your choice!” If you ever hear someone say that, run away: college is anything but “one-size fits all.” With the constant struggle to get perfect grades, perfect SAT scores, perfect everything, students have started to form the misconception that there is a “right, set way” to get into college, that doing this many activities for this long will look the best, that a 4.0 GPA and 2400 SAT score will guarantee admission. But that is not the case.
Every college has different criteria for admission. Some put more emphasis on grades, while others care more about the activities you’re involved in. A senior at Poolesville feels that “all colleges have different things they care about.” He also added that “most colleges look at students as a whole, so a few mistakes won’t hurt you.”
In general, most colleges look at academics, the rigor of the academics, and what the student has done outside of school. James Cappucilli, a counselor at Poolesville High School, says that “colleges want to see something you’re passionate about.” However, passion doesn’t always imply time. Even if one gets involved in something during their junior year of high school, if they have a passion for it, and are committed to it, then that is good. “It’s better to have one or two activities that you’re really into than to have four or five that are so-so” Cappucilli said.
Also, no two students are perfectly alike. One may be stronger in academics, while the other is stronger in extracurricular activities. Cappucilli advises students to “apply to different schools, because every school is looking for different things.”
Additionally, the application process is where students express who they are, not only as a student, but as a person. According to Zaragoza Guerra, former senior admissions officer from MIT, “admissions officers never deny students admission to their respective colleges; they only deny pieces of paper. Spend time making sure your ‘paper’ speaks to who you are.” GPA and SAT scores are simply numbers. The personal essay gives admissions officers a glimpse into how you think.
Personally, everywhere I look, I see students stressing over grades, over clubs, over everything. Many students have developed the fear that they will not be able to impress universities, and thus struggle to do everything they can for all the “college apps” to come. Students have become so engrossed into securing their futures that they are not living in the present. There may not be a perfect guide on how to get into college that fits for every school, but all universities, public or private, look for one common thing: the student. The REAL student. Colleges want to know how their applicant is as a learner, as a community member, as a person. So in the end, be yourself. Don’t get involved in something just so it looks good on your transcript; do it because it interests you. Do the things that you do best and be involved in what you like, not what you think will impress the admissions officers the most.
Article by Deepti Agnihotri, MoCo Student opinions writer