Looking back, I can see that before I met with him, I was still very confused and did not fully understand the application process. Before I applied, I was constantly thinking about how to showcase my strengths to colleges and overcome my weaknesses; I was too distressed to think about how to impress universities. Before I found ECL, I consulted some other domestic institutions that help with application, but their answers were unexpectedly the same:
Spend More Time Staring at the Clouds: At least, not according to the conventional wisdom on college admissions. Olivia attended a small private school near Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She had good grades and test scores, but nothing phenomenal. More striking, she maintained a minimal extracurricular schedule.
Combined, her school year activities required only seven to eight hours of effort per week. During the summer, she worked in a marine zoology laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, studying lobsters and horseshoe crabs with a research group run by her neighbor, a professor at the university.
Students familiar with competitive college admissions tend to have the same reaction to Olivia: Olivia, however, defied this reaction.
Not only was she accepted at UVA, she also won the hyper-competitive Jefferson Scholarship — a merit-based award, given out by UVA alumni, that covers the full cost of attending the school. Most high school senior classes have a student like Olivia — someone who defies our understanding of who should get accepted to competitive colleges.
Indeed, even Olivia was surprised by her own success: It instead points to a surprising possibility: This surprise, of course, requires the belief that the role of extracurricular activities is to signal important qualities about the applicant.
This trait, which I call interestingness, permeates their application — from their essay to recommendations — and has a profoundly positive impact on their admissions chances.
For these students, extracurricular activities play a different role than for their peers. I call this idea the interestingness hypothesis, and it upends conventional wisdom on how to get accepted at a competitive college.
They were pursuing the hypothesis that crabs use the tides to coordinate their migrations. It soon became clear that over the past three years, Olivia had developed a deep interest in this work. His enthusiasm for marine zoology infused their conversations.
The conversation with the scholarship committee shifted. Olivia began talking about the book Emergenceby Steven Johnson, which describes how simple small-scale decisions can aggregate into complex large-scale behavior for example, dumb ants creating smart colonies. But when I tell the story of relaxed superstars like Olivia, most high schools students balk.
This reaction is based on the common belief that only a few lucky students are born naturally interesting, while everyone else has to prove their worth the hard way — one demanding extracurricular commitment at a time.
But is this true? Ina research team led by Professor Linda Caldwell of Penn State University, conducted an experiment that effectively put the idea of the naturally interesting student to the test. They gathered a group of middle school students from four rural Pennsylvania school districts.
A subset of these students were randomly selected to receive a six-week training course called TimeWise. The goal of the course was to teach the students to make better use of their free time their theory was that less bored students are less likely to fall into dangerous behaviors, such as drug use.
After the course finished, all of the students were subjected to a battery of tests to assess their interestingness. This is an astonishing result.
We tend to think about interestingness as an innate trait possessed by a lucky few, but Caldwell and her team revealed that a half-dozen common-sense lessons were enough to make a significant difference in the measured interestingness of randomly-selected middle school students.Your senior year in high school is also the time to begin considering your financial aid options.
Take a hard look at your college and fund, and look for those grants and scholarships that can help you to close and financial gaps. So you want to go to business school? Applying to business school can be a long process, with filling out applications, writing admissions essays, finding letters of recommendation, taking the.
I also want to recommend you take a look at our Essays that Worked: real essays submitted by real students who have since matriculated at Connecticut College. These essays are terrific, and you can find them listed on the right side of .
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