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Sunday, August 21, 2011
Does "Well-Rounded" Mean "No Edge"?
In the college admissions game, much ado is made about the Summer. Those months of long, lazy afternoons that lure the average teenager into a full-time diet of languishing. The same months that are (sigh) absolutely ripe for packing in the experiences that will soon crowd the lines of the dreaded college admissions essay. Since the school year is reserved for, well, school, what better time than summer to create the kind of life experiences that every teenager needs to make themselves sound interesting come admission time?
You'll forgive this writer's wearied derision. I have noted before the importance of using the summer wisely. However, a recent New York Times article tackles the "Summer" issue anew by noting that scooping ice cream for pay can be as significant as traipsing along China's Great Wall. It isn't what you do but what you learn from it and how you're able to reflect upon those lessons in an admission essay. The article also raises the notion that college admissions officers aren't necessarily looking for the most well-rounded student anymore. One former admissions dean is quoted in the story as saying that " 'well rounded' [now] means 'no edge'". What does this mean for a high school student's summer calendar?
Seems to me that the substance of the ideal college admission essay is still a moving target. It will remain so as long as students try to tailor their experiences to the perfect essay, and not the other way around. Whether an admission officer will prefer a well-rounded student to the one who has mastered a single skill is anyone's guess. The best admission essay is one that is filled with genuine reflection upon experiences that have truly helped a young person grow as a human being. Where and how those experiences are formulated is unimportant. Maybe--just maybe--it'll happen in summertime.
Labels: does well-rounded mean no edge
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