The right answer, or unknown answers?

New research led by Prachi Shah at the University of Michigan shows that curiosity—which Shah defines as “the joy of discovery, and the motivation to seek answers to the unknown”–is one of the best predictors of academic success in young children. It’s also one of the best predictors of college admissions success for applicants.

Colleges are always on the hunt for students who will add to the intellectual vitality of the campus community. And that vitality isn’t encapsulated by a high school transcript. Do you have a favorite subject and teacher? Do you make an effort to learn about things—academic or otherwise—that interest you, not because you’re trying to boost your college applications, but because you genuinely want to know more? Are you excited to shop the academic supermarket waiting for you in college?

The joy you find in seeking and discovering answers to the unknown is just as valuable, if not more so, as the reward you find in seeking and discovering the right answer to a question on a test.