If you’ve applied to college or even just thought about applying to college in the last decade, you’ve undoubtedly worried about how “well-rounded” you were compared to other candidates.
Is your tenure as president of the student council, math team, and quiz bowl enough to gain you access to an elite university? Did you dedicate enough hours to your scrapbooking hobby to prove your versatility?
In short, just how well-rounded do you need to be – and how many extracurricular activities should you tackle – to get into the school of your choice?
The good news is that most of the country’s most prestigious colleges, from ivy leagues like Yale to elite liberal arts schools like Wesleyan, agree that you shouldn’t spread yourself too thin. They’re looking for students who are engaged in what they enjoy most, not students who rack up points for going through the motions in every club their school offers.
As Trinity College in Hartford advises prospective students on its website, “Remember that it is the quality, not the quality, of your involvement that is considered.”
Yale advises, “We are looking for students who will make the most of Yale and the most of their talents. Knowing you’re engaged in the resources and opportunities at your high school gives us an expectation of how you might engage the resources at Yale if admitted.”
Let’s say you’re one of those rare few students who manages to achieve the perfect balance between athletics, academics, and extracurricular activities. You do so much, how can you ever cover it all in your application?
Take some advice from Yale: “It is not necessary to report all of the activities you have ever participated in. You should only report your most recent activities, generally from grades 9 to 12, and you should focus on activities that you spent the most time on, those that have meant the most to you personally, and those that are most relevant to your college plans and goals.
So choose your activity or activities well, and make sure that they showcase your personality but still allow you to succeed and find balance in other areas of your life. It might help to keep in mind what Connecticut College says it is looking to see in its applicants: that they are “intellectually curious, highly motivated, and someone who wants to make a difference.”