The next few college admission cycles will look nothing like we’ve known because of so many fluid uncertainties. Since most colleges will pause, or completely stop, the test score requirements (SAT and/or ACT), what can you do to stand out?
If your sports or band season is delayed or cancelled because of the impact of the pandemic, are you going to take a "well-deserved" break? I hope not. Retirement is well-deserved, not a pause in competition. You need to be committed to put in the hard work. Jennifer Lopez said that "hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard”. During the off-season, work with a tutor to improve your talent (instrument, voice, coding, ballet...) or a trainer to create a routine that sets you apart from the rest-ers.
Without test scores and with grades being relatively equal, how should college admissions officers evaluate your application? It could be that extracurricular activities will set you apart from other applicants.
Wyatt Sloan, a former colleague at Ennova wrote that, “students who are right on the lower edge of the academic requirements may be able to tip the scales in their favor if their college application shows they were involved outside the classroom. For students who are seeking admission to a selective university, showing your willingness to engage in activities and go above and beyond can elevate you above students who did not participate in anything outside of their academic obligations. When two students have remarkably similar academic profiles, extracurricular activities might just be that make or break factor for an admissions officer.”
When it comes to extracurricular activities, it does not mean joining every club, meeting for an hour, and listing your attendance record on your application or resume. Doing extra does not mean being exhaustive or exhausted. It’s about “quality over quantity.” Taking a leadership position such as president, secretary, representative, treasurer, or team captain shows a commitment to quality. Being involved on a tennis team, scout troop, or youth group demonstrates to a college that you have the ability and skills to remain committed at the next level.
When you do extra, people notice. Going the extra mile doesn’t come with a digital ad announcing your sacrificial service. When Jesus was preaching on the mountain he said, “if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two” (Matthew 5:41, HCSB).” He was talking about doing extra.
While you may be required to go one mile (carry a Roman soldiers backpack, carry a seniors tuba, do 50 burpees, paint living objects, or run five miles), you are not required to go the second mile. As a challenge to what was normal for the day, Jesus encouraged his followers to carry the backpack one more mile. Go the extra mile. Do extra because it’s the right thing to do. Serving others at church, in your neighborhood, or in the community because you care gets noticed.
So what are you going to “do extra” to stand out from everyone else?
Run an extra lap. Draw an extra character. Lift an extra rep. Push an extra up (or something like that).
Through student ministry and educational consulting (career and college planning), I have enjoyed guiding teenagers to discover their higher calling.