Here's my college admissions version of this blog entry I read about competition.
Imagine you're a college admissions officer reading stacks of files
every day. Lots of applicants look the same. But every now and
then, one of them stands out. Here are some examples.
Lots of the applicants volunteer at hospitals. One of them is also
a trained EMT who volunteers at a free health clinic on the weekends
where people without health insurance can get medical care.
Lots of the applicants are student body presidents. One of them
was previously the student body treasurer who learned how to use Quickbooks
accounting software, implemented it, and saved the school several
thousand dollars in accounting fees.
Lots of the applicants are Eagle Scouts. One of them also teaches
outdoor survival skills during the summers and writes an essay about
the time he and a Boy Scout buddy voluntarily lived in the woods for
five days and brought no food or drinking water with them just to
sharpen their survival skills.
Lots of applicants are involved in the National Charity League.
One of them started volunteering at a literacy program when she was a
sophomore and has now taught 32 previously illiterate adults to read.
Lots of applicants are in the school plays. One of them took also took a carpentry class, read books about set design, and now leads the group of students who builds all of the sets for the school's drama productions.
Lots of applicants play sports. One of them also coaches a 10-12
years-old girls' softball team and is one of the most sought after private
softball pitching coaches in the area.
Lots of applicants play in the marching band. One of them organized
a field trip for the band to drive four hours on a Saturday to watch
the Ohio State marching band practice just to see how it's really done.
Lots of applicants are cheerleaders. One of them approached local
businesses and got sponsorships to send the team to a special camp over
the summer so they could learn advanced stunts.
Lots of applicants have straight A's. One applicant has mostly A's
with two C's in math, but excels in her English classes, won the
English department award, took poetry classes during the summer, writes
a column for the school newspaper that not everybody likes (but many
students love) and started an on-campus book club that meets at
Starbucks on the weekends to discuss everything from Harry Potter to
Lots of applicants have high test scores. One applicant has high
math scores, but also takes college level math classes, worked with a
professor over the summer to help her prove a previously unproven theorem.
Lots of applicants tell the college they're applying
because, "It's a good school." One applicant gives a detailed,
thoughtful account of her visit to the college and recalls the exact moment she knew "there was
chemistry between us."
In those pairings, which applicant is more memorable, more interesting, and more likely to get the nod from admissions?
It's a lot easier to be the applicant you can and want to be, to exert your own talents and be your own person, than to try to be just a little bit better than everyone else using the same old metrics.
Don't try to be like lots of applicants. Be the one applicant.