Monthly Archives: November 2014

Choosing extracurricular activities

DancingEver since you can remember, people have been telling you how necessary, how crucial, extracurricular activities are for your college resume. In addition to top grades and stellar test scores, a schedule packed with impressive extracurriculars is an absolute must. At least, that’s what everyone says. But is it true?

The answer depends on how you define “extracurricular” and what you make of it.

The most selective colleges are indeed interested in how you spend your time outside of class. Very interested. They want to know you’re not just another academic grind—that you’re a fully developed person with a range of abilities and interests. If you happen to have a serious talent, or an area of special expertise, they’ll be especially impressed.

But, if you think you need to be the captain of both your high school lacrosse and debating teams, to edit your school newspaper, be chief fundraiser for three afterschool clubs, head of the prom committee, and spend your summers building housing for the poor in Sumatra, you don’t get it. And if your mom or dad is pushing you to spread yourself this thin… ask them to stop.

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How important are college interviews?

Woman interviewingWelcome to November, seniors. Just when you think things can’t get any busier, they get busier! Just as you’re trying to complete those supplemental essays and keep up with your schoolwork, people tell you that you really ought to be interviewing with reps from all your favorite colleges.

But, since most schools claim these interviews are “optional,” it’s tempting to skip the stress and focus on the essays. Of course it’s tempting! But should you?

In recent years, colleges, admissions counselors, alumni and parents have hotly debated the value of the college interview. Some claim interviews play little role in the admissions decisions at many schools and ought to be phased out. Others argue the interview can give an applicant a leg up and is very important. Who should you believe?

First, it depends on the school. Some schools—even those in the top tier—simply don’t offer interviews. Amherst doesn’t interview. Nor does Berkeley. Nor do most state schools. At those schools it’s not an issue.

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