Online, Digital, or Virtual: Well-Rounded Still Wins Out

Madeleine Karydes
Madeleine Karydes

Madeleine attended UC Berkeley and double-majored in English and Media Studies. She is now an integral part of the Empowerly team.

The competition for college admission has never been tougher than it is now. The National Center for Education Statistics recently estimates that approximately 20.2 million students enrolled in college this year. Today, as school administrations are only beginning to announce their plans for the fall semester, those in-demand spots are suddenly uncertain. Who makes the cut? We find, being well-rounded as a scholar and student still wins out.

There is always an element of uncertainty in college admissions. What we do know is that college admissions’ personnel accepted these lucky students after careful consideration. The college or university board of admissions, with a weighting system unique to each school, determines the criteria for acceptance. Some criteria that are evident across the board at different colleges and universities are:

  • good grades,
  • well-written college essays,
  • glowing recommendation letters,
  • and well-rounded community and school extracurricular activity involvement.

Reasons to Keep Exploring New Activities

There are plenty of reasons that you should still be trying new things and expanding your horizons in high school, even if you can’t do it in person. Being able to test out skills, hobbies, and potential passions is a great way to start your path to choosing a major, job, or career field. Now is your time to cast a wide net and see what you like best!

Additionally, involving yourself in the social community will help you build critical “soft” skills like collaboration, communication, and group organization. While in-person is best, participating online can still help you make a strong impression in interview settings and build character. Plus, you won’t be freaked out by a potential Zoom interview or webcast lecture series if they spring up! There are lots of free resources and information available to you as long as you have an internet connection—no face-to-face contact required.

Build Your Resume

Career Vision, an online presence with a focus on careers, noted in their article “Colleges and Employers Seek Well-Rounded Applicants, Not Just Busy Ones,” that “[t]oday students may find themselves caught up in the competitive race for college acceptance or a full time job. Many students push to be involved in as many activities as possible to catch the attention of admissions officers or employers,” resorting to these lengths just in order to stay ahead of the pack. And now that this is your competition, Career Vision goes on, “[a]fter achieving top grades and test scores, ‘building a resume’ is now being viewed as a top priority.”

In other words, definitely participate and involve yourself in activities at your school. Other students aren’t just waiting around for the end of shelter-in-place orders. Make the most of your time. It makes you a better person, and it helps to build a resume that will help you claim important future opportunities.

What Colleges Don’t Want to See

Let us reiterate: well-rounded means balanced, with a breadth and depth of experiences. But don’t panic—this definitely doesn’t mean you have to do everything!

Believe it or not, there are certain things colleges don’t want to see on your extracurricular resume. Do not join too many clubs, because the school may question your time management skills; you could also tank your GPA by burning out all your energy. Similarly, do not serve in too many officer positions. While a few meaningful officer positions will demonstrate strong leadership skills, you can’t be an effective leader when you hold too many officer positions—there are only 24 hours in a day.

You should also show several years of continuation in a given activity, whether that is a musical instrument, club, or sports activity. It looks suspicious—or at least, disingenuous—if you wait until senior year to participate. Part of being a well-rounded student is continuing to participate in activities you enjoy over time, because it illustrates your passion and dedication.

Lastly, we hope this is already understood, please never lie on your resume about your extracurricular activities.

Find Internal Motivation

The time to become involved in extracurricular activities is in your freshmen year, not your senior year. It’s better to start early and authentically! Focus on how you give your time and effort to others in order to make the world a better place. These activities will naturally help you to earn acceptance to a good college. Simply put, by giving back to your school and your community everyone benefits. Finding internal motivation to build activities and engagement for yourself will demonstrate a strong character with a sense of initiative and drive! And that is always a strong foot to put forward.

When to Ask For Help

Are you wondering how to navigate the college admissions process now that the quarantine orders have been extended? Looking for ways to boost your extracurricular profile in a digital social landscape, as you gear up for your next year of high school? Book a free, no-obligation consult call with one of our enrollment team members to get an expert opinion on where you stand and how a counselor could help you.

Questions? Let us know!