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The Slacker Paradox: Myth or Reality?

The Successful Slacker

While conducting background research for an ongoing writing project, I’ve had several people mention an intriguing paradox involving high school students and college admissions.

I want your help to figure out if it is a true phenomenon or just a rare occurrence.

Here’s the supposed phenomenon: In most high senior classes there is at least one student who surprises everyone by getting accepted to a good college even though he or she seemed to do a lot a less hard things than other students who get rejected at the same places.

My question to you: Was this true for your high school senior class? And if so, what’s your theory to explain it?

To answer confidentially just shoot me an e-mail. You can also leave a comment on this post.

Is the slacker paradox real or just sour grapes from a disgruntled few? Help me figure out what’s really going on here!

4 thoughts on “The Slacker Paradox: Myth or Reality?”

  1. I was that kid. I was accepted to a lot of really good schools. I think it was mostly because of my admission essays I wrote. They were witty, creative, and pretty unique. I graduated with a 2.11, didn’t participate in many extracurriculars.. so I have no idea how I actually got into these schools other than my essay.

  2. I too am that kid. Current high school senior, I was recently accepted to University of Chicago via Early Action. Several people who definitely were not slackers didn’t get in, while I who definitely did slack got in. We’re still waiting for decisions from everywhere else, but in this particular case I can say that I agree with Sierra in that the essays were a huge help. Sorry, kid-who-deserved-it-more-whose-slot-i-took.

  3. I was that kid, too. I actually dropped out of the regular high school after skipping at least 2 days of school a week for about a month, and went to a self-paced school with a lot less structure and great teachers, but no oppurtunity for AP classes, which I had been taking at the regular high school. I graduated with a 2.8 GPA and was accepted into all 8 colleges and universities I applied to. I can only assume it was because I rocked my essays and my ACT… but I was definitely a slacker in school.

  4. I, too, was “that slacker” in high school, getting a good enough result to get accepted into my first choice (Chemical Engineering at Sydney Uni) despite spending little effort studying (and next to no time or effort on doing assignments). It was a continuation of the slack study methods I’d adopted after attending ‘opportunity class’ for the final two years of primary school (years 5 and 6) and then attending the local state high school where it was easy to top the class without putting in any real work. I had skipped attending most of the third year of high school (year 9) as my father was on an overseas posting to the UK and brought the family along, but didn’t have to put in any extra effort to ‘catch up’.

    However, the ‘slacker’ method didn’t continue to work for me at uni – I spent 5 year “doing” chemical engineering at Sydney Uni before eventually getting excluded. By the time they kicked me out I had completed about 85% of the total course requirement, but had failed a couple of second year core courses more than once (those that were both boring AND difficult eg. “mechanics of solids”). But my result did include a few high distinctions from the subjects I’d found interesting (i.e. I actually attended most of the lectures, read through the text book and got around to doing some of the practice sets and all of the assignments).

    I eventually got a BAppSc(AppChem) from a lessed ranked University (UTS), and a couple of graduate diplomas from other unis, all via distance and/or part-time enrolment while working full-time. However, I didn’t change my ‘slacker’ study methods and the GradDip qualifications were the result of dropping out of Masters courses part-way. To date I haven’t much improved my ‘slacker’ study technique (hence my reading this blog before starting my Master of Astronomy course next year!). Since I’m now close to 50, it will really be a case of teaching an old dog new tricks if my study process improves 😉


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