With second semester just around the corner, applying to college becomes a stressing thought for some seniors. As the admissions requirements become increasingly more stringent, simply having good grades may not be enough to gain acceptance into your dream college.
“Where it [extracurriculars] really comes into play is at the more competitive schools, like UT and Rice. They want to see a student that does well in schools and is very well rounded. You have to understand that these schools get thousands and thousands of applicants, and a good majority of them all have a 4.0 GPA. So the schools have to look at other things to narrow down the search,” Renelinda Arana, assistant Professor of Sociology at Our Lady of the Lake, said.
For students who plan on attending a public four year university, such as Texas A&M or the University of Texas, is their ideal school. However, given the competitive nature of these institutions, community college may be a more viable option for some.
“It would depend on the college. There are lots of open universities that really only care about required GPA. It would help you to have something under your belt for extracurriculars, but it isn’t really a big deal if you don’t have them for those kind of schools [community colleges]. For those less selective schools, all you need is the minimum GPA and minimum GPA score,” Arana said.
Some students only enjoy going to class and going home; they don’t have time or the desire to join clubs or sports. There are still other options for you stay standing out from the crowd.
“Doing volunteer work is really good. It is almost as good, if not better, to show that you are involved in the community. Universities want to think that once you get to college you will always contribute to that community,” Arana said.
In my situations, students may feel like the more clubs they join, they better off for college they are. While in reality, being more involved in a select few would bring you further.
“You have to actually be involved and not just show up. My advice, and I tell this to my students, is don’t spread yourself too thin. Don’t do a bunch of different things in a bunch of different clubs, but rather- show more interest into one or two clubs,” Arana said. “If you show the admission council that you are really interested in one thing, they would see your determination in one subject or idea rather than trying to just be in everything.”
According to senior Chris Dingman, some colleges may pay more attention to the “Community Service/Volunteer” section of a student’s application depending on the individual college, and the impact that a student has within their community.
“What I have been seeing is a lot of schools list community service on their admission pages. Like when I search, Admission Requirements’ on a school’s page, it usually says something about being involved in the community. Even though it’s talking about grades, I think they put a lot more emphasis than what people think,” Dingman said.
Many top universities see students who hold jobs as more responsible than those who don’t. Dingman saw his interest of golf as an opportunity of employment to show colleges he is a responsible adult.
“Yeah I worked at the golf course since junior year. I’m not really sure if this has helped me with getting into college, but it definitely taught be a lot about responsibility. This in the long run could help me when I am actually in college,” Dingman said.
It isn’t as easy to get into college as it used to be. For this generation, schools are much more competitive with every aspect. Universities used to accept anyone who would graduate from high schools, now you have to stand out far and beyond your peers.
“When my dad went to college, he said all that mattered was his grades. It is just a lot harder for this generation. We don’t just have to worry about people from this state, but from all around the world too,” Dingman said.
Senior Magdelene Lee, who has applied to Rice and Brown, knows that Ivy league and private universities have an even more extensive application than state colleges.
“Getting into Alabama was mostly just my grades. Since they are a state college, they are more focused on getting people with the high grades. With it being out of state, they would like to take kids from Texas, for diversity reasons,” Lee said, “With Rice and Brown it is more about me overall as a person, added in with my essay and how I answered my short answer responses. With Rice and Brown, everyone already has the highest grades, so the schools have to look at something else to make you look unique.”
When applying for college, time is key. The earlier you start your application , the better off you are.
“Start early with the application. Because when I wrote my college essay and gave my friends it to peer edit it, apparently the style I was writing was not satisfactory for colleges. Or rather it is a different way of writing. So there are lots of things you have to go through to apply and you need to allow yourself time.” Lee said.