Admissions

College Admission for a Daughter with NO Extracurriculars?

Question: Is it possible to get in to college without ANY extracurricular activities? I have a very introverted daughter. She attends an independent study high school that meets only six hours per week and then assigns about 30-35 hours of outside work. She does this work on her own while other kids her age are in school. When she's not studying, her favorite activities are sitting alone in her room reading philosophy books, drawing, and writing in her journal. Sometimes she gets together with a good friend (she actually has a healthy number of friends), but her social life tends to be one-on-one interactions as opposed to parties or even group outings. She's not a “joiner", and she doesn't like doing things with large groups of people. As a result she has no formal activities of the sort that most applications require: no teams, no clubs, no working on the newspaper, no choruses, no church group, etc. How does she talk about extracurricular activities on her application when the things she loves to do are so internal and solitary? She is interested in small liberal arts colleges, and her GPA is around a 3.5.

Imagine that you're an admission officer at a highly selective college, and let's say that it's just minutes short of midnight. You've already read 37 of the application folders on your coffee table, and the pile doesn't seem to be getting much smaller. As you study the open file on your lap, you see that the candidate is in the Spanish Club, on the Debate Team, and a member of the Model U.N. Didn't the last application say exactly the same thing? No, wait, that one said the French Club. You yawn twice and wonder how you'll ever survive the stack in front you. But then it's on to the next folder. What? This student doesn't seem to be in anyschool clubs. Could this really be? Your heart skips a couple beats and you start humming Ode to Joy.

While admission officials do want students to be engaged outside the classroom, the role of the school club is vastly overrated. Sure, being a star athlete is one of the biggest admission “hooks" around, but the more typical teenage undertakings are so commonplace on applications that a candidate without them might actually have an advantage in the selection process.

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