I would estimate that roughly 95% of the general population is continuing to submit applications using strategies that are based on a variety of misconceptions left over from the 20th century. Students, families, school counselors and communities continue to operate under a set of admissions rules that no longer apply.
We’ve all heard that schools have sought the Renaissance student. Yet, it has become abundantly clear to me that this 20th century pursuit no longer applies at any top-tier school. It is a concept that is dated. At the same time, I have found that universities want a renaissance class – with each student bringing a unique and fiery specialty.
What I discovered is the way in which one key “point of excellence” can hold more weight than all other elements combined. That singular specialty is 100% within your child’s control.
In the same way that schools recruit students solely for their athletic skills, so too; do schools look for students with a point of excellence. In most cases, schools will overlook somewhat weaker grades and test scores in order to recruit students for a wide range of singular talents, abilities, and/or intensity-of-purpose.
Through arduous research, I have determined that 21st century college admissions have morphed into an entirely new kind of animal. My research took me through the stacks of libraries and through the internet. But most importantly, I interviewed colleagues from across the Ivy League and other top-tier schools.
From Harvard, I learned their admissions department seeks students who show even a long-shot possibility that this student could go on to start something like Facebook. From Columbia, I learned that they scroll heatedly through the myriad applicants in search of a student who might find a cure for the common cold. From Yale, I learned they are continually focused on landing the next winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (or perhaps just your average up-and-coming Meryl Streep.)
I am puzzled by the fact that no one has yet fully analyzed the way these tight-lipped committee decisions have changed. Perhaps it is because admissions departments are so secretive; perhaps it is because they too believe that students are powerless when it comes to creating their own candidacy.
Yet, your child holds within her the ability to focus and take action toward one singular passion. This simple effort increases her odds of acceptance at top schools at least five-times-over.
Ignore those who claim she should spend all her free time participating in school activities; ignore those who tell you she doesn’t have enough “safety” schools; ignore those who tell you she doesn’t have the necessary grades and test scores. She has worked hard. Now it’s time for her to focus on setting herself apart and gaining the success she deserves.