One of the core objectives of our college admissions blog is to dispel misconceptions about the highly selective college admissions process. And that’s precisely what we intend to do right now. There’s a piece up on “WBUR” by Fred Thys entitled “Kinder College? Some Schools Are Striving To Make Applying Less Stressful” in which it’s implied that highly selective colleges highly value students who make a difference in far off places in the world (far from their homes). The piece implies that not doing, say, a community service project in a far-away country puts a college applicant at a disadvantage as compared to his wealthier peers. That is simply not true.
As Thys writes, “Wang runs cross-country and was in the Waltham High School chess club. He’s a high-achieving low-income student. He just graduated from high school and has a scholarship at Rice University. He starts this fall. When he was applying for college, he felt that he could not compete with wealthier classmates when it came to listing extracurricular activities. ‘Obviously, some kids, their parents are super-wealthy and they have a lot of connections,’ Wang said. ‘You have kids go across the world to help out, or helping out their father’s company.’ ‘The signal that colleges tend to be sending is what’s important to us is high achievement, and large numbers of achievement,’ said Richard Weissbourd, who wants to help both the high-achieving low-income student and the over-scheduled child. He says the current college admissions process values the wrong things.”
But this implies that highly selective colleges value volunteering in far-away lands. Rather, such activities simply flaunt wealth and privilege. They flaunt the notion that mom and dad have the money to send their children to Nicaragua to help build houses. Such activities so often render applicants unlikable to admissions officers when the whole game is to inspire admissions officers to want to root for you. So to assert that the college admissions process values the wrong things on the basis of this argument is entirely misleading. The college admissions process at our nation’s most highly selective colleges doesn’t value those service trips in Nicaragua. Indeed those kinds of activities hurt an applicant’s case for admission.
What are some other activities that come to mind that flaunt wealth in the college admissions process? Post your thoughts below and we’ll be sure to jump in on the conversation.