How I built the college application that got me into Brown with a full ride and how I believe Corona will affect that process. –Griffin
Let’s talk about college applications first. When you’re applying to prestigious schools like the Ivies you need to stand out. Unsurprisingly this is easier said than done. If you come from a rough situation for example a low household income, your struggle to overcome that hardship should be the epicenter of your application. However a lot of people applying to college are fortunate enough to not have experienced any true hardship in their life. So what should the focus of their applications be? It should be one or two dominant characteristics of yourself. You can take these character traits and use it to describe why you do almost everything, connecting all your school, work, and extracurricular activities with a unifying theme. You are marketing yourself to these colleges, and they don’t want well rounded people. They want people who are very good at certain things, this is what diversity on campus means. So to market effectively you want to portray yourself as very good at one or two things and those would be your dominant personality traits as previously mentioned.
I marketed myself as a leader/problem solver. I was Corps Commander of my High schools JROTC unit, captain of the lacrosse team, and captain of the golf team. I was also in the highest level classes available to me. Looking solely at my achievements you can see I am intelligent and a leader. So I took that and branded it better, tying the two traits together. I am a leader because I like solving problems and people seek me out to do this. See the key here is there are thousands of people smarter than me, and there are thousands better at leading. By focusing on the combination of the two I provided a unique personality that not many others have, a leader that enjoys helping people solve their problems. This kind of individuality peaks universities interests because they are looking for the most diverse possible student body.
All of that brings me to this year and Corona. I have heard of colleges not requiring SAT or ACT scores because of the limited opportunity to take them. This means you should only send your scores if they are impressive. Most people will have extra time on their hands because of the limited opportunities. I believe colleges will actually expect applicants to be finding uses for this extra time. Learn another language, study on college level courses, or start an online community/business are all things you can do to enhance your application. The average high school student will not use their extra time to do anything productive so you can use that as a way to separate yourself from the rest. Covid will also provide a good excuse to why you didn’t do something a college might expect you to have done. An obvious example would be testing like I previously mentioned. While I don’t suggest lying on your college application if the reason you didn’t take a certain higher level class, play sports, or work a job/internship was Covid you should express that on your application. However you should also provide along with that what you accomplished with the time provided to you by not participating in that activity. For example if your Football season was cancelled because of The Rona and you were going to be captain you should put that in your app, along with how you used the extra time to learn the fundamentals of French.
Overall I don’t think Corona will make or break anyone’s college application. I believe colleges will be more forgiving about organized extracurricular but will be expecting something to replace it on your application. Keeping that and your unifying theme in mind will help you build a very strong and competitive application you can be proud of. –Griffin