I Need Your College Admissions Story for a Writing Project

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I’m in the early stages of a new writing project about the college admissions process. Specifically, I am interested in hearing stories about students who followed unconventional paths into top colleges. That is, I want to hear about students who focused on one interesting, unusual thing in high school (instead of taking on a million activities to try to impress an admissions officer), and ended up getting accepted at a good college. The goal of the project is to question the necessity of some of the more painful and stress-inducing hoops many students jump through when thinking about college admissions.

Examples of the type of students I’m interested in:

  • A young man in California who took on a reduced course load his senior year (no AP courses!) to revive a local search and rescue program.
  • A young woman who traded a crowded extracurricular schedule for an obsession with a certain type of meteorite.
  • Another young woman who took advantage of a work-study program to skip out of school early to hang out in Manhattan dance studios.

If you have a similar story to tell, or know someone else who fits this mold, send me an e-mail and briefly describe your unconventional admission tale. Most likely, I’ll follow-up with some additional questions. You might even be featured in an upcoming article.

Thank you in advance for your help. I look forward to hearing your stories.

6 thoughts on “I Need Your College Admissions Story for a Writing Project”

  1. I’d like to mention that any junior in high school has already been told the same thing many times; it’s better to have a “passion” than to do 50 different extracurriculars. I think the bigger problem is high school students not exploring the different options available and instead spending all their time on fabricating one fake passion.

  2. Cal,

    I e-mailed you before about the high school “lifestyle.” I’m curious to hear if you think that, with a different approach to schoolwork, the first subject above could have handled both AP classes and his volunteer work? Of course, I don’t know the specifics of his situation, but in your opinion, is high-school work (specifically Honors/AP/IB) more or less “hackable” than college academics?

  3. Julia,

    That’s a good question. My guess is that it is significantly more hackable. High school student (myself, at the time, included) have terrible study habits, because they can get away with more. It follows that even some basic changes could make life much easier.

    Check out this article I wrote for About.com about preparing a teenager for a college level workload.

    – Cal

  4. Emma,

    The word “passion” is ambiguous, which is why I think it frustrates so many parents and students. It also leads to the efforts that you label as “fake.”

    I’m interested in the quirky kids that aren’t thinking about college admissions, and get accepted despite themselves. There are some interesting truths hidden behind these stories…

    – Cal

  5. I’m from India and Indian mythology is something that has an abiding effect on my persona. Would an essay based on the effect Indian mythology has had on my views and perceptions be a good topic to choose??


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