What Really Matters For College
November 13, 2019
Frantically marking items off her checklist for every club she juggles, senior Katelyn Pasierb works to fulfill her responsibilities for each leadership role she holds. From debate tournaments to running the Strings for Shepard program in the Key Club, her planner pages are filled with tasks to be completed. All the while, the next college interview looms over her head.
Pasierb participates in numerous extracurricular activities that are important to her high school experience.
Made in Canva“I think the key is to focus on the goal of why you’re involved,” Pasierb said. “If you work toward that goal of why you became involved and continue to focus and think of that goal, you can manage many extracurriculars and have fun in high school.”
Professional college planner Tonji Lewis owns Class 101 and helps students prepare for the college application process. Lewis and other planners start as early as 8th grade to help students through the process from college visits to filling out applications and apply for scholarships.
“Something that shows you know how to work with others, you are involved in your community, or you have a passion or determination to strive to be the best you can be at whatever you have chosen to do,” Lewis said. “
college admissions officers want to see that you can do more than just study hard.”
Most colleges look for student involvement in their schools and communities. Popular extracurriculars among colleges include athletics, student government, academic clubs or fine arts. As a participant in many clubs, Pasierb holds leadership positions with various responsibilities.
“Debate is a great way for me to get involved both extracurricular-ally and educationally,” Pasierb said. “Colleges love to see debate on applications because they know it requires hard work and dedication. I would say Key Club is just as important as anything else because it gives you a way to get involved and give back to the community. Overall, I think, outlining what you’ve done and how it’s affected you play a big part in the admissions process.”
Lewis says students should find opportunities that will allow them to explore a certain field or career that interests them and showcase their desires. A student must show deeper involvement in the areas most meaningful to the student as a preventable measure to becoming over-involved.
“What helps differentiate me is taking the leadership roles and the time management,” Pasierb said. “I do my best and dedicate my time to doing the best I can. It’s better to be in a handful [of clubs] than too many; because if you do, you never really get the true meaning behind the club or really get involved.”
Focus on the original goal and intent of joining a club will prevent a student from becoming over-involved and keep the student in a deeper interest in the activity. Leadership roles presented to a college prove to be an important factor in colleges and universities.
“Having the opportunity to have a leadership role is huge when it comes to showing how committed you are and able to be directly involved with a group or team,” Lewis said. “It can demonstrate your willingness to take on more responsibility while maintaining an above-average GPA as well as your ability to mentor others.”
Essays can account anywhere from 10-30% of the factors considered when a college admissions officer or committee evaluates your application. A strong essay gives the college an understanding of the student and a chance to see characteristics, such as commitment, leadership, ambition and work ethic.
“It all depends on what the topic is,” Counselor Lisa Fields said. “The main goal is to highlight what makes you unique and what sets you apart. If it is a more personal topic then you can talk about something personal you have been able to overcome and how it has affected you.”
The application gives the college both a statistical evaluation and an insight into the student’s personality; the college will also use other means to review a student before admittance which may include viewing a student’s social media and observing what they have participated in.
“There is no one deciding factor, which is the reason that most universities require that you submit more than a GPA, class rank and SAT or ACT scores,” Lewis said. “Universities want to make good students become better students. They want them to be involved in serving their communities, being better leaders, and represent their school well.”