Recently, we were at an alumni event for Dartmouth College where Dartmouth President Jim Yong Kim addressed a packed hall. During the question and answer session that followed Kim’s speech about Dartmouth, an alumnus questioned why so many wonderful students who attended the high school at which he taught didn’t get admitted to his alma mater. He spoke of how well rounded these students were, how they were Renaissance young men and women in that they excelled in multiple sports, music, and community service. In this alum’s words, these students are just like he was as a high schooler and he was admitted to Dartmouth. President Kim had a very eloquent and simple answer. He said that the student they were looking for years ago is not necessarily — and often most certainly is not — the student they are looking for today. He went on to explain how Dartmouth College admissions counselors are instead in search of talented college applicants to form a well rounded student body.
What President Kim didn’t specify but he absolutely meant is that they are looking for talented students to form a well rounded class. And that means they’re not looking for “Renaissance” young men and women who play 5 hours of the violin each week combined with 3 hours of swimming, 2 hours of volunteering at a homeless shelter, and an hour at the piano. The talented college applicants that Dartmouth admits are already intellectually curious and wildly successful in academics. That’s usually a prerequisite for admission (though there are most certainly exceptions on, say, sports teams we won’t begin to name). Contrary to the time in which the alumnus applied to college, college admissions counselors like students who excel in a specific area. Can you be an excellent squash player who is on the recruiting radar of college coaches and volunteer as well? Of course! The point is…better to be talented in one area than mediocre in five areas.
Read our article originally published by Peterson’s on Talented College Applicants. We can help you develop a strategy for your extracurricular pursuits so that you can stand out to college admissions counselors. Contact us today by signing up for a free 30-minute consultation.