Things for College

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smilesrandom
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Things for College

Postby smilesrandom » Sun Jul 11, 2010 1:28 am UTC

Entering my junior year in high-school, I am nervous about all of the little things that make your application stand out. I live in a pretty small town, and state, and there are not many opportunities out there. Is there any recommendations for extra-curricular that could be beneficial for both a math major and getting into college? I have some already, Debate Club, Tennis Team, and Jazz Band, but I need any other recommendations. Thanks!

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cjmcjmcjmcjm
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Re: Things for College

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Sun Jul 11, 2010 5:40 am UTC

If your school has math competitions, go to those. Otherwise, 3 extracirriculars isn't bad at all, especially if your grades are good. All I did outside of math competitions was drumline-related, and I didn't have trouble getting into the schools I applied for with (mostly) generous scholarships.
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alach11
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Re: Things for College

Postby alach11 » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:57 am UTC

Find a meaningful community service area for you to participate in. If you put 50+ hours into tutoring or helping the elderly it will set you apart and give you good essay writing material.

Also look for ways to get more recognition for the activities in which you're already involved. If you can become captain of a club/team or win some tournament it looks better than having more activities under your belt. Think quality over quantity.

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KestrelLowing
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Re: Things for College

Postby KestrelLowing » Mon Jul 12, 2010 12:21 pm UTC

alach11 wrote:Find a meaningful community service area for you to participate in. If you put 50+ hours into tutoring or helping the elderly it will set you apart and give you good essay writing material.

Also look for ways to get more recognition for the activities in which you're already involved. If you can become captain of a club/team or win some tournament it looks better than having more activities under your belt. Think quality over quantity.


+1

This is really important. Colleges are always looking for leadership.

I was only really involved with two extracurricular activities, FIRST robotics and marching band, but I was section leader for a few years and I headed up two groups in FIRST. Both took up quite a bit of time and I wasn't able to do much anything else. Still, I was accepted to every school I applied to (side note: your goal should be to get rejected from at least one college. While I was accepted to every school I applied to, I didn't apply to any out of state. Michigan does have very good engineering schools, but I always wonder if I could have actually made it into MIT. Don't have those regrets later on) and given quite good scholarships.

Outis
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Re: Things for College

Postby Outis » Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:20 pm UTC

I think the most important thing is that you do something that you're genuinely interested in and want to spend a lot of time doing. Thousands of kids probably feel the exact same way as they start to think about the college process, so adding one more line to your application isn't what will make yours stand out -- but if you really put a lot of effort and care into one or two activities, whatever they might be, then that will come across in your applications.

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cjmcjmcjmcjm
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Re: Things for College

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Wed Jul 14, 2010 12:36 am UTC

Outis wrote:I think the most important thing is that you do something that you're genuinely interested in and want to spend a lot of time doing. Thousands of kids probably feel the exact same way as they start to think about the college process, so adding one more line to your application isn't what will make yours stand out -- but if you really put a lot of effort and care into one or two activities, whatever they might be, then that will come across in your applications.

This. Colleges are much more impressed by one activity that you participate in throughout HS over several that you only are involved with for a year
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DemonDeluxe wrote:Paying to have laws written that allow you to do what you want, is a lot cheaper than paying off the judge every time you want to get away with something shady.

reynoldscorb
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Re: Things for College

Postby reynoldscorb » Wed Jul 14, 2010 3:24 am UTC

It looks like your extracurricular list is pretty good. If you have just a few things going on outside of school, the most important thing is to focus on your strength of schedule for your senior year.

Be sure to let colleges know that you're serious about working hard.

smilesrandom
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Re: Things for College

Postby smilesrandom » Wed Jul 14, 2010 8:30 pm UTC

This has been extremely helpful, thanks for all of your input. I am going to start volunteering at the Food Shelf, keep with what I do, and try and get more hours in at work.

supermario
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Re: Things for College

Postby supermario » Thu Jul 15, 2010 3:11 am UTC

Depth, not necessarily breadth, is key. Find one thing you love and take it to the national (or international) level. Get involved. In debate, for example, try to get to the NFL National Tournament or compete in your state tournament and do well there. Be honest in your admissions essays about what you've done and what you want to do. Show off your quirks with the admissions staff to make your application stand out. They get thousands of applications from kids who are valedictorian, president of the National Honor Society, involved in an extracurricular, and score 2200+ on the SAT, but very few show passion for something and a drive to extend beyond their immediate sphere of influence.

All this advice is pretty vague, but that's because what you get involved in is very personal to you. Whether volunteering, academics, or some other project, just get involved as much as you can and then some.

epsilon-delta
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Re: Things for College

Postby epsilon-delta » Sat Jul 24, 2010 2:21 am UTC

Something I wish I had done before college - look for a copy of a book on naive set theory (Irving Kaplansky's Set Theory and Metric Spaces comes to mind) and read it. Don't just memorize his arguments either. Understand them and what he's doing. This will give you a really good introduction into what mathematics "is all about". I believe it's fairly cheap and highly approachable. This isn't advice on how to get into college per se, but it will help when you're making that transition from multivariable calculus into linear algebra, number theory, set theory, or whatever intro to higher level math class your university has.

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nash1429
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Re: Things for College

Postby nash1429 » Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:56 am UTC

In my own experience of college admissions, it is possible to create the illusion of being extremely involved in your community by being able to talk about a few minor activities that you have done and describe in great detail that activities' (possibly very slight) impacts on you. Remember that admissions officers are looking for a well-rounded individual who will bring diversity to their campus, not someone who can pull out exact data on their community service.

Outis
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Re: Things for College

Postby Outis » Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:13 am UTC

nash1429 wrote:In my own experience of college admissions, it is possible to create the illusion of being extremely involved in your community by being able to talk about a few minor activities that you have done and describe in great detail that activities' (possibly very slight) impacts on you. Remember that admissions officers are looking for a well-rounded individual who will bring diversity to their campus, not someone who can pull out exact data on their community service.


I suppose it depends a lot on which colleges you are applying to, but I'm inclined to disagree. Application forms ask for both for the years you have done these activities and the approximate number of hours per week you put into them, so it would be obvious to admissions officers if you tried to "create the illusion" that you were deeply involved in something you picked up in your junior year and never spent more than an hour or two on; if doing so improves your chances of getting in to any college, it does so minimally at best. (And if these activities are really that meaningful to you and a big part of your life, then why are they glanced over in your recommendations and other components of your application?) But more importantly, doing anything solely to pad a resume is just an unpleasant way to live life--not only will admissions officers be able to tell if you're doing activities you don't actually care about in an attempt to fool them, but you'll be so much less happy than if you just did those activities that you genuinely want to do. It's impossible to guess what "admissions officers are looking for," so why bother shaping your life around that at all?

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nash1429
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Re: Things for College

Postby nash1429 » Wed Aug 04, 2010 6:28 am UTC

Outis wrote: Application forms ask for both for the years you have done these activities and the approximate number of hours per week you put into them


This part of my application (University of Washington) was fairly minor (listing and describing accomplishments in high school) whereas the essays allowed for a broad spectrum of life experience that opened the window for making much ado about very little. Of course, this cannot be done with 100% embellishment and exageration. You have to be talking about something that is in fact somewhat meaningful to you and simply make it seem more life changing. You can also put more minor accomplishments in a better light by talking about their impact on you. Example: I started playing the violin about a year and a half before leaving high school, and in my application I discussed how it was something I had always wanted to do but hadn't had the opportunity for various reasons, and how I learned humility by having 5 year olds play better than me, etc. The violin was something I enjoyed, but I would not see it as having been a particuarly formative experience.

Such things aside, the point I was trying to make (albeit badly) was not that applications are stupid and should be bullshitted, but that how you present your life on them is just as important as the facts of your life themselves. Seeking out community involvement in something you enjoy is rewarding and should be pursued as a passtime as much a application material. Treating your life this way can even benefit your application.


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