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Why colleges do not want well-rounded kids

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Selective universities are famously known for wanting the well-rounded student. What does this mean for students? On top of getting good grades and high test scores, they need to excel in perhaps three sports, lead the environmental club at school, be involved in as many honor societies possible … The list never ends and neither do the sleepless nights. Fortunately, the desire for well-rounded students is largely a myth. Rather, schools are looking for well-rounded classes. To fill these classes, they need students (known by some as “spike” kids) who are dedicated to their passions.

While well-rounded students are jacks of all trades and masters of none, “spike” kids are those who demonstrate a sudden spike in talent, passion, and dedication to a certain activity or cause. These students make admissions officers read their applications twice. Long after these gatekeepers are done reading for the day, they keep remembering these students as if they already know them.

What should students “spike” in? That absolutely depends on the student in question. Trying to spike in a field that does not resonate with a student will first, be hard to do for four years and second, come across as fake in a college application. The point, both in the race for college admissions and in life, is to be true to one’s authentic self.

Stay tuned to the next article in this new series for an example of a successful "spike" kid.



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