Misconceptions of the Traveling College Applicants

Travel in Admissions, Traveling College Applicants, Travel in Admissions Essays
Don’t write about travel to faraway lands in your college admissions essays as it would do your application a disservice (photo credit: Kenneth Allen).

A “New York Post” piece out this week references a survey conducted of teachers that found a high percentage of teachers believe traveling the world — and sharing those experiences in admissions — will be attractive to admissions officers. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. As our regular readers know all too well, one of the core objective of our college admissions blog is to debunk misconceptions about the admissions process. The notion that referencing one’s travels in college admissions will help the applicant’s case for admission is patently false.

Some People Believe Referencing Travel Will Help Students’ Cases for Admission

As Christian Gollayan writes in a piece for “The New York Post” entitled “Kids who travel will be more successful, says survey,” “And while teachers concede it is a [sic] costly for parents (76 percent strongly agreed financial resources represent the biggest barrier), they also said parents who make sure their kids are well-traveled will get a return on their investment. Forty-two percent said they believe that kids who have visited different countries are more attractive to college admission recruiters.”

These People Are Wrong as Travel Will Hurt Students’ Cases for Admission

While we do love “The New York Post” (heck, Ivy Coach has even been featured on the paper’s Sunday edition cover!), it’s a misconception that traveling the world and sharing those experiences will help a student’s case for admission to our nation’s elite universities. We’d argue just the opposite: it’ll hurt a student’s case for admission. Big time. It’ll present a student as privileged, as unlikable.

When traveling to parts of our world can cost tens of thousands of dollars and admissions officers don’t make much more than the cost of this travel for their annual salaries, they’re unlikely going to be inclined to root for these students. Travel not only reeks of privilege — it’s also boring. Remember when your neighbor shared all of her photos from her recent travels and you had to feign interest for a half hour or maybe even longer? Admissions essays about travel are equally boring…and utterly cliché.

Don’t write about travel in college admissions essays. Don’t write about service trips in Nicaragua in the activities portion of the Common Application. Don’t discuss your travels with your alumni interviewer. Ignore the 42% of surveyed teachers who have bought into the misconception of the case of the traveling pants student. Instead, heed the advice of the sage Mr. Rogers and make a difference in your own neighborhood. It’ll be a beautiful day!


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