Is it important to be popular in the highly selective college admissions process? Is it important to be considered the coolest person at your high school? The answer to both questions is…absolutely not. Popularity has no place in college admissions. None whatsoever. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important to be likeable. Likeability matters in highly selective college admissions and it comes through in many aspects of your college application – from your guidance counselor and teacher letters of recommendation to your personal statement and additional essays to your alumni interview. Being likeable is an important skill in college admissions…and in life!
So what are some ways in which a student can come across as likeable? Maybe it’s in a teacher’s letter of recommendation in which she describes how when you thought nobody was looking, she observed you consoling a student who was bullied. Maybe it’s in a college essay when you write something that makes a college admissions counselor giggle. Maybe it’s on an alumni interview when you show up on time, dress appropriately, and answer questions respectfully and honestly.
Likeability and popularity aren’t the same thing and if you believe they are, then you’re not understanding what we’re saying. College admissions counselors aren’t looking for prom queens. They’re not looking for the jock who is the king of the jock table in the lunchroom (unless that jock is exceptionally talented at his sport to the point where he is being heavily recruited by the university’s coach in that sport). They’re not looking for the applicant with 5,000 Facebook friends. But they are looking for nice, humble, hard working, intellectually curious students. Arrogance hurts students in highly selective college admissions. But being likable only helps.