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The Panther Paradigm

What Really Matters to Colleges?

Photo courtesy by www.theodysseyonline.com

Photo courtesy by www.theodysseyonline.com

Olivia Sommerer, Staff Writer

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High school is the time to start preparing oneself for college and the real world. Teachers and parents are constantly telling students to keep their grades up, to join as many clubs and sports as possible and take challenging classes. But recently, it’s been said that much of what people think is needed to get into colleges, isn’t true.

According to In Like Me: The College Admissions & Student Aid Resource Hub, one of the many things that universities look at is your SAT/ACT scores. This statement is usually the fear of many people who simply aren’t good test takers, but this doesn’t reflect true intelligence. Meaning, just because someone don’t test well, doesn’t mean they are less smart than someone who does.  Colleges also look at a student’s overall grades throughout their school years, but the real focus is on the scores.

From there, colleges turn their focus to essays and recommendation letters. This seems to be something most people forget about because they are focused on extracurricular activities. They want to learn about a student as a person, because this is their only real insight into their character.

All those extracurricular activities students are supposed to be a part of are actually what colleges look at last. This doesn’t mean that students shouldn’t be a part of something, but it shouldn’t be their priority. However, if someone is a great athlete and has great grades, it would be a huge stand-out amongst other applicants.

Students are probably thinking that they need to make a checklist saying: 1 sport, 1 club, all A’s, fantastic SAT score, etc. This isn’t what it is about. Regardless if someone has all A’s, or is a star athlete, if someone is a part of every club at their school, or if they don’t participate in anything at all, what matters is that someone has a story.

If a student takes a look at some of the most well-known people in the world such as Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, neither one of them have college degrees and yet they helped change the world with their passions and interests.

Colleges want to see more than anything above, and that’s someone who has a drive and passion. If anyone wants to be a musician, but hasn’t been in a school band or has terrible grades, they should show their passion for music. They can even apply for Berkeley School of Music and tell their story. To add on, if someone wants to change the world and find a cure to cancer, they should write about their   passion, and tell colleges about why they matter.

Sophomore Alexis Friedman, an IB student, puts significant effort into making sure she’s prepared to apply for her dream schools. She stated, “I want to apply for Syracuse, FSU, UF and Northwestern. My main focus would probably be to set myself apart. I’m trying to be different and do things that are impactful and unique.” Friedman, also knows how important it is to keep up a substantial GPA. Friedman spoke on the new focus colleges have towards their applicants, “I think it’s 100% true. Everyone gets high GPA’s nowadays. Colleges want to see someone with different qualities and you have to really set yourself apart from other applicants. Getting good grades really isn’t enough today.”

Many people are on student council and varsity teams, but that doesn’t always translate into a story on paper about a student who is going to succeed and thrive in the college and real world. That is what matters; drive and passion is the real key to success.

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What Really Matters to Colleges?