Trying to compare your ECs to other top applicants

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Trying to compare your ECs to other top applicants
By Ilcapo (Ilcapo) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 09:46 pm: Edit

I have found it to be especially difficult to "rank" my extra-curricular achievements, as most students seem to beleive that they are "amazing" in that department but offer no such proof.

Many colleges and college books boast of students who have disovered possible cures to diseases or won the national debate championship - activities that I find myself shying away from.

Instead, I tend to do things independently of school organizations. Internships, political campaigns, newspaper contributor, freelance photographer, etc. How are activities such as these going to stack up against "President of Key Club" or "Treasurer of Honor Society".

It might sound boastful, but I sincerely believe that I donate much, much, more time to my activities than anyone who simply sticks to school offered activities (except for maybe 3 season athletes or members of the thespian societies)

So what do you think? Do adcoms appreciate the independent spirits or do they look at them as loose cannons who contribute more to the community at large than to the school community itself?

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 09:50 pm: Edit

Yes, adcoms like independent spirits. Just make sure that you fully describe what you are doing. Don't leave them to guess about your activities and impact.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 09:56 pm: Edit

Independent spirits do well in admissions if the adcoms can get the full feel for your activities. Enthusiasm and passion do count for a lot. If you want to see how the top colleges tend to view ECs, an excellent book is What It Really Takes to Get into the Ivy League" by Chuck Hughes, former adcom member at Harvard.

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 10:05 pm: Edit

I don't see any difference whether an EC is connected to the school or done outside of school. It is more WHAT you are doing with your time, what you have achieved, what role you take in the endeavor and your committment to it over time.

My kids have done many ECs connected to their school but also many significant ones not connected at all to their school. I never have viewed the latter ones as any lesser whatsoever. For example, one of my kids just got cast in a regional production that will involve 13 hours per week of rehearsals, plus 8 hours of drive time, and that is not connected to school at all. Her dance studio activities involve 13 hours per week without the four hours of drive time. And I could go on but won't bore you. These examples connect to her intended college major.

I agree with Northstarmom that it is important that you describe your EC activities and your role in them as well as your time committments.

I also don't think you should concern yourself so much with comparing what you do to what others are doing in terms of ECs. My kids have followed their hearts in their interests and activities. They never chose what to participate in to look good for college or to compare with anyone else. They did what they loved to do and will continue in these passions in college. I would not agree that outside activities take more time than school related ones. As I said, my kids have done both and in both cases, the time committments are great. I guess perhaps you are observing "clubs" and such that perhaps meet once a week or something like that. The EC things that my kids have done through their school are heavy time committments so that is what I know of and thus do not see those as involving any less hours than their outside endeavors. The only difference is that the activities outside of school involve more travel time. Though I could take that back because for sports games/meets/races for school teams they are on, those also involved a great deal of travel, though not each day. Some days they got to stay right where they were (easier for me! lol) compared to the 100 miles or so I put on the car daily to outside activities. But that is the mom end of it, sorry!

As long as you have been busy with your pursuits and have shown committment and have achieved something, don't worry too much on this score.


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