Do them anyway

Students and their parents often lament the qualities, talents, and contributions that colleges won’t see during the application process. If only the college could see how nice you are to your younger siblings, the way people respond to you at the counter of your part-time job, the relationships you build or focus you maintain or genuine passion you carry for your hobby or interest—if only the college would look at those things, they’d see how much more I am than just a collection of grades and test scores.

Still, do those things anyway. Do them to the very best of your ability. It’s who you are, and you don’t need a college to tell you that they’re valuable.

Just because you don’t think a college will be able to appreciate the way you bring your special qualities to the world doesn’t make those qualities any less special. There’s plenty of comparison built into this process around how this grade or test score or award will stack up against the competition and be evaluated by your chosen colleges. No need to sully the pure parts of life with attempts to attach them to college applications.

There may not be a space to write “I’m my siblings’ favorite babysitter” on a college application, but the traits that make you good at one thing inevitably make you a better human. And better humans make more of an impact wherever they spend their time, and that includes activities that do—and those that do not—belong on a college application.

And besides, what’s the alternative? To stop being who you are just because colleges won’t evaluate it? That is never a good strategy, college admissions or otherwise.

If you have special talents, skills, or traits that you don’t believe can be measured on a college application, do them anyway. As long as you and others benefit in some way, the college admissions part will eventually take care of itself.