Last week, I said I would write about file reading, and I will break it up into six areas. The first thing we generally see during the review of the files is how a student spends their time outside of the classroom. As such, lets talk a little bit about how we look at an applicant’s commitment to activities, service, family and/or leadership areas. Remember, this is one of six areas I will talk about, so don’t get too focused or hung up on just this area.
The first thing you should know is that we value quality over quantity. What we are looking for is somewhat about the range of what a person does, but more so the depth of their involvement. I see far too many applicants get involved with multiple clubs or organizations in their junior year after the light comes on (or the parent’s voice starts to be heard) about being involved. Suddenly a student is involved in 7 different groups, from the Green Campus club to the knitting for kids group. Anything and everything gets thrown in.
What we are really looking at is what things you have committed to during your high school years, both in time and in consistency. I am much more impressed with a student who does three things, let’s say scouting, cross-country and Habitat for Humanity, growing in ability and responsibility each year, than a student who bounces from group to group, having ten areas of involvement, but not staying with any one of them. This isn’t to say that we don’t look at times where a student gets involved in a range of activities to find their niche, but we do focus on dedication and commitment.
Another thing to look at is that I listed family and service. Two years ago, I read a file where the applicant worked 35-40 hours a week (supervising 15 people!), and was the main bread-winner for a family of four. He was not working simply to afford movie tickets or gas money, but to put food on the table and keep the electricity on in the house. While he had limited involvement in clubs, he was dedicated to his family and his job. It comes down to looking at a student in context within his/her situation, and what is available or expected within their situation.
We suggest that you look at your time spent outside of the classroom and let us know what you are passionate about and active in. Don’t think that just because it is not a “school” club, that you should not list it. If you play the violin, are active in missions with a community group, have the lead in a community theater production, etc, tell us about it. The worst thing you can do is leave a section blank just because you don’t think we would want to know about “X”. We will then look at what activities you have chosen to participate in over the last 4+ years, what leadership roles you have taken on, and what type of time commitment you have put into these areas.
So go find the activity you are passionate about, have a great day, and Go Dawgs!