As I reflect on 2019 in these first few days of 2020, a single question arises: In a process naturally laden with stress and pressure, how can we make the road to college admissions healthier?
While the path to admission contains many roadblocks we cannot remove, there are several areas where we can assert our agency and create a healthier, happier, and more productive relationship with this entire process. It starts with students identifying their passions and following them.
We need to transition from asking students “What’s your GPA and ACT score?” to “What are you passionate about?” and “What do you like to do more than anything else?”.
On a practical note, colleges are explicitly requesting students to follow their passion. Gone are the days they want to see thousands of identical “well-rounded” students with the exact same backgrounds, transcripts, and extracurriculars. As more and more students are excelling in rigorous courses and achieving above average test scores, schools are looking for ways to differentiate between students.
When opening an application, admissions officers are asking, “How can this student add value to our university?” Beyond grades and test scores, true value lies in a student’s story. Schools are looking for a clear line they can draw between a student’s class choices, activities, internships, and community service work that explicitly highlights their passion. If an application states that a student wants to be a business major, the admissions officer will respond: prove it. If colleges are daring us to follow our passions, let’s harness this and run with it.
Students who follow their passion will also inherently earn better grades and achieve higher test scores. There is no reason to make this process any harder than it has to be. If the game of college admissions starts with a focus on a student’s GPA and test scores, why not provide students with the assurance and relief that these numbers-focused components are leading to an academic and professional career they are truly passionate about?
Let’s resolve to follow our passions in 2020. After all, it is the key to everything that truly matters: personal fulfillment, strong emotional health, self confidence, and happiness.
Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year, thank you for being a part of our community.