DO Strong ECs really matter?

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Discus: What Are My Chances?: March 2003 Archive: DO Strong ECs really matter?
By Hack5111 (Hack5111) on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 12:27 am: Edit

Everyone seems to be president of something and this and that. But lately, I've heard someone say that ECs only realy come into play if you're like captain of the football team, or state or national champion of something or if you won some major award like Intel. Aside from really OUTSTANDING ECs, grades and SATs are really wat its all about. Am I wrong?

By Caramelapple (Caramelapple) on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 01:41 am: Edit

Wouldn't mediocre ECs be better than none? At least try to show some interest. It's okay if you're not the president of 14 clubs and the captain of 3 varsity teams, colleges still want to see how you spent your high school years.

I would think the value system for grades versus SATs versus ECs would be different for every school because the selection processes are always different. I would say you should shine at least in one of those areas if you want to get accepted into a fairly selective college.

But I don't know, I'm far from an expert.

By Kalitiha (Kalitiha) on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 01:45 am: Edit

Colleges want well-rounded students. People that do something other than school. It might not be an EC, maybe you have a job or spend a lot of time volunteering. You should pick a few passions, and do those well and for substantial amounts of time. That is definitely better than a lot of things you spend little time doing or even doing nothing.

By Microcephalic (Microcephalic) on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 06:24 am: Edit

Colleges prefer quality over quantity.


"President of the Healthy Heart club at school; raised $5,000 dollars to purchase A.E.D devices, and organized a campaign to motivate students into a healther lifestyle."

is a LOT more ideal then:

"Tutored middle schoolers in math."
"Assisted the elderly at a retirement home."
"President of the Chess Club."
"Member of the Drama Club.

But yes, EC's are very important. They show that you are not only diverse, but capable of contributing greatly to the college community. To a college, a lesser amount of quality contributions is more important than quantity.

It's important to not only find a reasonable balance, but enjoy what you do. NEVER commit to any EC's purely for the purpose of college brown-nosing. EC's reflect YOU as a person; don't cause your personal image to become nebulous due to a throng of EC's on your applications.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 11:36 am: Edit

Microceph speaks truth.

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 01:54 pm: Edit

Hack...I totally disagree with you. Extracurriculars are very important in college admissions. When you say that all that matters is grades and SAT scores, that is not the case. Yes, you must have solid grades, taken the most challenging courses available to you and be in the ballpark of the SAT score range for students attending that college. Of course you must have those basic credentials to be considered. That said, at the more challenging colleges, EVERYONE applying has great grades and reasonable SAT scores overall. So, what sets them apart? It is these other things...and ECs is a big part of that....essays of course as well. These colleges want to build a CLASS. They want students who will become involved with the student activities at their college. They want athletes, musicians, theater types, newspaper writers, student government activists, community service involvement and so forth in their student body. It is not enough to just be good at academics. In fact, I find that the best students in our high school are often the ones who are actively involved in many extracurriculars. In fact, one thing that I notice with these kids is that here they are the ones in the hardest classes and getting good grades, all the while having less time at home to do schoolwork due to their extracurricular involvement...making their grades all that more impressive with the time management and committments involved.

As someone else mentioned, you should not be choosing an array of ECs just to build a college application. Ideally, you should be involved with activities that you love to do and would have done even if not applying to college. Often these passions start long before high school. I know in my own kids' cases, they are involved in many EC pursuits but have been participating in these areas their entire childhoods. It is never too late to start something but do what you enjoy doing.

I can tell you as well, as a person who conducts interviews for college admissions as an alumni that a whole section of my interview questions involves extracurricular involvement...whether it be school related such as sports or performing arts or student government sorts of things or volunteer work, jobs, travel. If you had nothing to say in this area, it would make a very dull interview and impression in my opinion. Questions include things like what have you done to make your school a better place? How do you spend your time outside the classroom? and so on. I read on these forums all these clubs some schools have and ours does not have a lot of clubs so I am not sure how much work is involved in those activities but I know that the committment to things like sports or performing arts type things that my kids do is alot of hours!!!

I do not think you need to be the president of your organization or have won some prestigious award for the extracurriculars to have significance. If you demonstrate passion, hard work, committment, leadership, etc....that will come through. For instance, my daughter is not the president of the Student Senate but she is on it and has done a few very involved things that she has initiated, spearheaded, and accomplished alot on and she can talk about those. Or for instance, in music, to show some accomplishment, she can say she made All States, stuff like that. Is she the top player in the country? NO, few are. But has she committed herself for as many as 12 years to many of these activities and taken them to some level of achievement (whether it is All States, or seeded number one on her team, etc, made the company at her dance studio, whatever), yes. Those are things that fill out your application and tell about who you are as a person, not just some black and white stats that truthfully most applicants at top schools will also have.

At a recent visit we made to Yale, the admissions counselor remarked the high number of perfect SAT score students that were denied admission. So, SATs are not everything. You do need scores in the general ballpark, yes. But maybe someone with perfect SATs did nothing more than study and they want to build a class of diverse students who will contribute to the student life activities of the college. A girl we know at Yale got in ED and had SATs in the 1200s but had some very strong ECs and achievements. It is NOT just about scores. Unfortunately on these forums, a lot of people rate chances of admission on things like JUST the scores and GPA alone. Someone has posted here that she has 15something on her SATs and is not satisfied that it is high enough so is postponing applying to college. I can tell you that the college is not going to see a difference between 1550 and 1600 and say, oh, you got 1550, not 1600, we do not want YOU! Yes, get the scores in the ballpark, but you better have this extra stuff that sets you apart as a person!

Those are my views.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 02:55 pm: Edit

Cheers and whistles for Susan. Thanks for taking the time to type a post that long. Well said.

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