“Save the cheerleader, save the world.” Oh wait, that’s from NBC’s “Heroes.” College admissions officers want to know how college applicants are going to change the world. But that’s not as catchy as saving the cheerleader and saving the world. Anyhow, we digress. We came across a really nice piece written by a high school student, Courtney Butterworth, for “Sun Sentinal.” It’s entitled “Change college admissions and help teens change the world” and we figured we’d share it with the readers of our college admissions blog. In the piece, Courtney tells a story about how her dad, whenever he’d say goodbye to her, would urge her to change the world. The saying got Courtney thinking about just how she could change the world. She thought about how she’d try to get the best grades and perfect or near-perfect SAT scores. Maybe she’d even run a marathon. But then Courtney began to realize that these achievements would only change her world — not the larger world.
Admissions officers at America’s most selective colleges sure do want to see how students intend to change their corner of the world!
In fact, Courtney writes in her editorial, “We push 17- and 18-year-olds to their mental, physical and emotional breaking points and tell them that it is all in their best interest, so they can get into the school of their dreams (or nightmares) and change the world once they are there, once they have gotten their golden ticket of admission. We give them the idea that once they are inside the gates of college, they change the world with their presence. My immediate answer to my father’s phrase reflected this societal standard perfectly; all of the things I had immediately decided I would do would most definitely help me get into a renowned college. I would be the one thing that every guidance counselor tells students they must be: the ‘well-rounded’ student. I had assumed, as many young people often do, that if I changed my world, I would change the rest of the world by default.”
And while we do appreciate the sentiment that Courtney has expressed in her piece, we’d like to point out a couple of misconceptions. For starters, highly selective colleges are not seeking well-rounded students. They haven’t sought well-rounded students since the time the original “90210” was playing — and only the early years of the hit Darren Star series. Rather, these schools want singularly talented students. And they want students who do — who do! — demonstrate how they’re going to change the world. They don’t want students who are satisfied just getting perfect grades and test scores. The most selective colleges in America want to see on a student’s application precisely how the student is going to change the world. Our students at Ivy Coach dare admissions officers not to admit them. And how? By showing them exactly how they are going to contribute to our society. If the school doesn’t want to be a part of this journey, that’s a risk they’ll have to take. But one they will not wish to take…
And remember: “Save the cheerleader, save the world.” If you want to get into some of the most selective colleges across America, you’ve got to figure out how exactly you’re going to change the world…and then be able to clearly and powerfully articulate it in all of your storytelling throughout your applications.