Seniors have college admissions on their mind. Many students have the same desire: opening that acceptance letter saying ‘Welcome to Harvard”.
It’s no easy feat to be accepted to the Ivy League and top-tier universities throughout the United States.
The admission rate for Stanford University hovers around 4%. It is not uncommon for a valedictorian to be rejected. The valedictorian, and their parents, are always shocked when this occurs. How could a student with a perfect GPA and test scores be rejected?
The answer is simple.
There are nearly 40,000 high schools across the country. That means 40,000 valedictorians. With only eight Ivy League universities, the number of valedictorians alone is more than three times the number of open slots. What this mean is that these highly selective universities turn down students who are perfect-on-paper all the time. Being valedictorian is great, but it’s definitely not enough to warrant admission at the most selective colleges in the country.
Academics are only the first hurdle to overcome in the college admissions process; there are additional hurdles.
Countless parents and counselors advise students to be “well-rounded”.
What if I told you to do the exact opposite?
Most students, and people in general, work hard on improving their weaknesses. They try to present a reasonably good front across all areas. As a result, they are mediocre at most things. The well-rounded strategy backfires in most cases because the student comes across to the admissions officers as average in all fields and does not shine in any one field.
Harvard is not an average college, so why would they accept an average student?
The strategy I suggest is quite different. I suggest students work diligently on their strengths. Forget about striving to be well-rounded. I see “pointy” students gain admission to the top universities in the country. They are extraordinary at one, maybe two, areas.
Is this strategy easy to implement?
Of course not.
It takes time, persistence, and dedication to become a specialist in your field. That is exactly the reason why it is so extraordinary.
The first time Tiger Woods picked up a golf club, he was not a pro. Even Picasso had to start somewhere.
The university wants to know that you are willing to put in consistent, sustained effort in your chosen field until you achieve the kind of success that makes you stand out among your peers. ‘Pointy’ students demonstrate that they have the direction, the groundwork and the passion to do exactly this and that is why they are preferred candidates for any university.
It’s not easy! And that is precisely the reason why these students stand out.
Top universities seek specialists: individuals who are so driven by one aspect or one field that they are enthusiastic about devoting their entire time and attention to achieve outstanding results in that area.
By choosing different students with passion, drive and demonstrated skills in different areas, the college builds a class that is well-rounded yet made up of students who may not be well-rounded.
You see where I am going here?
The class is well-rounded, but the students are pointy.
I will let you in on another secret.
The most innovative companies in the world – e.g. Apple, Google, Amazon – follow the same strategy. They hire “pointy” candidates.
The “pointy” student stands out, not just in college admissions, but in life.