Well Rounded


Well Rounded


Well-rounded applications are essential if you want to stand a chance at getting into various organizations – from honor societies, esteemed colleges, and even later in life as you enter the workforce. The key aspect that sets one applicant apart from the next isn’t, as most of us might assume, a perfect SAT score or straight A’s. While of course stellar grades won’t hurt you in the long run, what admission officers are really looking for is a list of extensive extracurriculars: from student council and leadership positions to being a part of a sports team. Therefore, it’s interesting to note how academic achievements are often appraised as being of much greater value than winning a local sports championship, when the opposite might very well be true.


This isn’t to undermine the fundamental importance of scoring well academically – which often serves as a basis for these very applications. If you have a GPA of 2.7, it’s highly doubtful Harvard will come knocking on your door; but if you also happen to be an unrivalled football star, your chances of gaining admission to a good college are much improved. This culture of looking at applications from a holistic point of view can help those without a 1600 on the SAT gain an edge over their competition. However, it also adds an enormous amount of stress onto those that look to their extracurriculars as a way to compensate for their lackluster grades. Let me illustrate in the following scenario:


Say you have a math test tomorrow, and you desperately need to study in order to ensure you don’t completely bomb it. You plan to go to the library after school and get some quality cramming time in – but wait, you have track practice instead! If you don’t beat your previous record, your coach might not let you compete in an upcoming meet, so you stay late to try and beat your time. You’re exhausted, but it’s time to head home and eat dinner, followed by volunteer commitments you signed up for last week; you need just a few more hours! By the time that’s over, it’s already past your usual bedtime, and you still need to study for that math test.


This is the reality faced by so many students around the world, and for many, it understandably starts to take a rather detrimental toll on their mental health. Imagine doing the above all day, every day, for all four years of high school. Suddenly, it’s that much easier to understand why rates of anxiety, sleep deprivation and depression are so high amongst teenagers: choose between academics and extracurriculars and your chances of getting into your dream colleges are further away than ever before, while trying to accomplish both leads to nothing but stress and struggling. Alas, millions of students choose the latter, praying that a few hours of sleep missed here and there will pay off in the form of a brighter future down the line. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case, and unless the system undergoes a complete reform, it’s unlikely that this stress will be alleviated anytime soon – all in the name of seeming more “well-rounded” on an application.

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