Do You Have It?

Always Wonder Why

Colleges want people who have intellectual curiosity. 

More and more, colleges are assessing hopeful candidates on their level of intellectual curiosity. Some colleges have even developed a methodology that scores applicants’ answers relative to this characteristic.

Intellectual curiosity means that an individual is internally drive to seek information for its own sake … not because a teacher will give her a failing grade or a boss will fire him if he doesn’t learn something about a new product. Essentially, intellectual curiosity drives an individual to learn unique for its own sake and not for any direct purpose.

Colleges will do their best to find out if an applicant has intellectual curiosity, and will question students to ferret out that information. Applicants will need to be prepared with truthful answers and ready to describe how that ‘characteristic’ plays out in real life.

An outstanding applicant response to questions about his/her intellectual curiosity could be:

“Yes, I plan to be a science major, but I have a deep interest in the 1940’s and Hitler’s rise to power. My great-grandfather served in World War II and fought in North Africa and Italy. He never made it to Germany, but I actually have a few of the medals he earned during his time in the Army. I have read at least a dozen books on that war. My particular favorite is the trilogy by Rick Atkinson that starts with ‘The Army at Dawn.’ I recently went on USArmy.gov and was able to trace his unit’s path through Africa and Europe. Someday I plan to follow that route to see where he spent five years of his life. What a sacrifice that generation made. By the way, I included the map of his route as an attachment to the essay I submitted with my application to this college.”

When college admissions officers realize that an applicant’s curiosity is genuine, his or her application can shoot to the top of the admissions pile. Be ready for the competition. Start reading.

Do You Have It?2020-04-11T21:00:39+00:00

Prove You Care

… About Something Other Than Yourself

When colleges review applicant information, officials look for candidates with a demonstrated interest in things that matter … things that matter in different ways. While they want students who work hard and are focused on their academics and personal futures, they don’t want students who are so self-absorbed that they fail to help others or society as a whole.

These days, colleges and universities look for positive character traits, and among the things they look for is some form of charitable activity.

However, we all know that high school students have busy lives and between school classes, homework, and appropriate self-serving extra-curricular activities leaves little time for yet another requirement. But adding this item to a student’s ‘MUST DO’ list isn’t that hard. 

Some examples of caring beyond one’s own self-interest would be:

  • a student who is very good in Mathematics can tutor friends who need help (after securing the approval of all key Math teachers),
  • a student who loves animals can foster an older cat or dog who is in an animal shelter waiting for a forever home (no kittens or puppies — they often demand 24/7 care), or
  • a student who codes can develop a website for a non-profit organization.

These are just a few suggestions. But most importantly, whatever a student decides to do must be done well and hopefully documented with a letter of recommendation or certificate of thanks from adults who are appropriately connected to the undertaking.

Prove You Care2020-04-11T19:44:20+00:00

Evidence of Accomplishment

Build a Paper Trail

Colleges want evidence of accomplishment. Students academic and behavioral efforts will be documented in their report cards and in any standardized tests they take. But having certificates presented in response for success achieved and letters of recommendations from teachers, coaches, and employers are invaluable. As students live their lives, they should look for opportunities to build the biggest paper trail possible.

Even better, students should try to be more targeted.

If a student is working in a child-care center after school and he or she wants to be a kindergarten teacher, a request for a letter of recommendation from the head of the center would be appropriate and a boon to that student’s future. In hat situation, it would be appropriate for the student to ask the letter to emphasize the great relationships he or she established with the members of the four-year-old class and/or parents as customers. If a student is working in the center but doesn’t want to be a kindergarten teacher, the head of the center can write a letter praising his or her on-time attendance and willingness to do anything the early childhood teachers asked.

Students should never miss a chance to build a case in support of their future goals, even if those goals change dramatically over the years.

Evidence of Accomplishment2020-04-11T17:37:02+00:00

Fewer Is Often More

Invest Wisely

Student’s may not know this yet, but time is often a person’s most valuable asset. In the world of work, time is absolutely the most valuable asset. So learning how to make careful decisions about how to spend one’s time is critical.

That’s why college admissions officials look for students who make intelligent decisions when selecting their extra-curricular activities. Many students try to compensate for weak academic performance with a flurry of after-school/summer commitments. Good try, but it won’t work.

Academics first — academics count more than any other factor — whether a student is bound for college or the world of work. If significant improvement is necessary, students should invest time — and money if necessary — to improve their academic achievement with tutoring rather than add an additional extra-curricular activity commitment.

Once that focus is clear, students don’t need to engage in 12 different extra-curricular activities. In fact, college admissions officers believe that one or two targeted and meaningful activities that truly relate to a student’s goals are a better investment of time than multiple less-relevant activities. And their admissions decisions reflect that philosophy.

Fewer Is Often More2020-04-11T04:58:02+00:00

High Quality Activities

Wanted: Passionate Involvement

Colleges want passionate involvement in activities that build leadership, contribute to personal achievement, and create depth, not breadth of experience.

In other words, one or two long-term ‘demanding’ activities are more important than multiple small activities that don’t demand as much from participants or don’t offer opportunities to demonstrate leadership and followship.

It turns out that colleges don’t believe that students who have many extra-curricular activities are necessarily ‘well rounded.’

Colleges want students who have an interest in, and substantially commit to, deeper involvement in fewer activities that matter and support their life goals. So choose carefully.

High Quality Activities2020-04-11T03:43:42+00:00