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Help with EC's please?

MissWanderlustMissWanderlust 5 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 10 New Member
edited March 2013 in College Admissions
Currently I'm a high school sophmore attending an IB school in Washington State, and even though I'm only in 10th grade I've started to worry/think about college admissions and the like. I have several schools on my list that I want to tour (a mix of Ivies and non Ivies such as Brown, Georgetown, UVA, Columbia, Princeton, NYU and Boston University) and I've been thinking about the admissions process. I know that stellar grades are an important part of getting in, but my parents have been telling me (rightly) that they're also looking for a well rounded individual, someone who has an interest outside of themselves. I have several EC's that I do including volunteer work, here's a list:

Soccer (11 years) A soccer captain for two of those years before I moved
Faciliating/Refeering games (3 years)
Track (2 years)
Dance (2 years)
Knowledge Bowl (2 years)
History Bowl (1 year) (and we're going to nationals this year)
Piano (7 years)
I volunteer with kids and veterns at the military hospital and I am about to join another volunteer program. I've also applied to a program at Princeton that I'm waiting to hear back from. In addition I'm also trying to raise enough money to do a volunteering program outside of the US, enter the Scholastic Key competition next year ( I love writing), and get to state at National History Day.

I know that those aren't eye-popping, but it's stuff that I enjoy doing. The problem is that I am a Navy brat which means I have to move around a lot. Colleges like to see continuity and commitement, but it's sort of difficult when some of my activites (Knowledge Bowl and History) are not at the schools that I attend. And unfortunatly I won't be able to complete the IB program because where I'm moving to next there isn't an IB school close enough to where I am. (However, I will be taking a mix of AP and honors which should be good enough) I'm not going to let this stop me, but from time to time I do worry
(because I'm a worry wart) about my EC's not being good enough. Since I am trying to get into Ivies as well as non Ivies I was wondering if you former and current college students (from Ivies and non) to help me out. Do I need to step it up more? Are my EC's good enough for an Ivy Leauge school or any of the colleges I'm wanting to go to? Your help is greatly appreciated.

From,
A slightly worried sophomore
edited March 2013
7 replies
Post edited by MissWanderlust on
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Replies to: Help with EC's please?

  • mmmgirlmmmgirl 880 replies53 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 933 Member
    When you fill out your college application, there's a section for Additional Information. This can be used to explain any special circumstances the college might not know about. You could use it to describe how your frequent moves affected your academics and ECs.

    About your ECs generally, that's a LOT for a sophomore. The only thing is, they're kind of all over the map. Colleges don't really like "well-rounded" students anymore. They prefer students who are really dedicated and passionate about a couple of activities to those who are involved in a bunch. As you get into your junior year, you might want to think about which activities you like best, and spending more time on them while cutting back on others.
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  • MissWanderlustMissWanderlust 5 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 10 New Member
    Oh I never knew about that, thank you for telling me. I'll be sure to say that when I'm filling out my applications. I see your point about the ECs, I'll try to focus on my a few of my ECs. It's going to be hard to cut back though, and I don't really know which one's to cut. (A case of sophomore-noobia I guess) I really like doing them all. Should I also cut back on the number of programs and competitons that I apply to? Abroad and Domestic? Thanks for taking the time to reply by the way.
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  • mikemacmikemac 10257 replies150 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 10,407 Senior Member
    The question about impressive ECs comes up regularly on the forum. There is a thread with several posts by Northstarmom, a Ivy alum interviewer, about what constitutes impressive ECs from the point of view of the most selective colleges. The post is at http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/what-my-chances/210497-those-ecs-weak-so-what-s-good.html

    As you will see from that link, at the most selective colleges they are looking for depth more than just participation. Stanford, for example, says
    Students often assume our primary concern is the number of activities in which one participates. In fact, an exceptional depth of experience in one or two activities may demonstrate your passion more than minimal participation in five or six clubs. We want to see the impact you have had on that club, in your school, or in the larger community, and we want to learn of the impact that experience has had on you.

    2 very interesting articles about ECs that stand out and how to get them (same author, different examples) are at How to Be Impressive and Save This Grind? While I don't agree with everything in them, take a look at these 2 articles and I think you'll get some original ideas.
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  • mmmgirlmmmgirl 880 replies53 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 933 Member
    I wish I'd seen those two articles sooner!

    About which activities to cut: you basically have several groups of related activities. You've got sports (soccer, track, refereeing), artsy stuff (piano and dance), academic stuff (knowledge bowl, history, the Princeton program), and volunteering. Instead of dropping programs indiscriminately, choose which one or two of these "clusters" you enjoy most, and drop the rest. Then focus on getting more accomplished in those areas with similar clubs and activities. Just fyi, most colleges aren't particularly impressed with service trips abroad, or "programs" at prestigious colleges that you have to pay for (there are some exceptions).

    The links mikemac provided have some good tips, but you don't necessarily have to do all that to get into college. Most students focus on being very strong academically, and then dedicate themselves to a few activities that they love.
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  • MissWanderlustMissWanderlust 5 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 10 New Member
    Thanks for those two articles they've really helped me a lot. I'm glad I came here for help. The Princeton program is free, and I didn't have to pay for it so does it count as an exception? And what about a rotary trip? Would a paid internship with the State department (over the next summer when I'm a junior and eligible) count as a "good" EC? It goes towards helping out with my career choice too. My soccer team does fundraising and stuff to help us with trip expenses etc. We (my teammates) often pay for the materials ourselves. Why about that? Sorry for all the questions!
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  • mmmgirlmmmgirl 880 replies53 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 933 Member
    I think the thread linked above listed Rotary as a good EC. Usually if you don't have to pay for a college program it's pretty good. A State Department internship would be amazing. Btw, having to pay for something doesn't automatically make it bad. I just meant overpriced "summer programs" on college campuses or in foreign countries that mainly exist to pad students' resumes. Like "teen tours" of Africa where you spend one day on a safari, one day painting a hospital, etc.
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  • MissWanderlustMissWanderlust 5 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 10 New Member
    Thanks to everyone for all your help. and mmmgirl i totally get what your saying about those overpriced types of trips. Btw I'm a military brat and I move around very frequently so next school year (when I'm a junior) I'll be at a new school. Is my cumulative GPS average from my junior and senior years at my new school plus my SAT and ACT results (when I take them) are what colleges are going to see judge upon.

    The difference between the two schools I've attended high school at have stark differences. The one I'm at now is an IB school very competitive, we don't have class ranks but the highest GPA anyone senior has ever graduated with is a 3.5. I currently have a 3.59 and that's a miracle considering our work is really challenging (college freshman level is about right).

    The other school is not as competitive, still a good school but the caliber of won't nearly be as difficult or challenging.
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