Does a high GPA and rank make up for a lack of focus in extracurricular activities?

<p>Hi, I'm a sophomore in Texas and I was rank 2 freshman year in a class of about 1500. I know that's pretty dang good, but it worries me that my ec's (orchestra, UIL academics) aren't as strong as others' in the top ten. This is mostly because I quit tennis and don't have interest in a specific subject, like math or science. I don't want to corner myself into something I don't like, but will the lack of focus in my activities hurt my chances of getting into a competitive college?</p>

<p>What colleges are you looking at?</p>

<p>Short answer: no, not unless you are trying to get into truly “elite” universities such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc… It probably will not matter for UT-Austin or Baylor, for example.</p>

<p>Longer answer: Don’t worry about it. Be true to your actual interests in life, and everything will work out. Especially if you study hard. At the most, EC’s account for 25% of admissions weight. Grades and SAT/ACT scores are far and away the biggest factors. Life is too short to warp your personality just to get into a fantastic college.</p>

<p>I’m looking at Cornell, Rice and John Hopkins as my dream schools since I really don’t think I could get into an Ivy Leaguer. </p>

<p>Hmm that’s comforting to know that extracurriculars are only 25% :slight_smile: And I guess changing my interests for the sake of admissions is bad…I’m more along the lines of being lazy in deciding what I want to do though. </p>

<p>I thought Cornell is an Ivy League; I thought it just wasn’t as tough or whatever as the others</p>

<p>Cornell is in the Ivy League. (The Ivy League is just an athletic conference…some non-Ivy schools like Stanford and MIT are even more selective than most of the Ivies.)</p>

<p>Colleges like those ones consider ECs because most of their applicants have high grades and test scores and they need a way to differentiate among them, so it’s usually necessary to have good ECs. Most of the applicants <em>without</em> high grades will be shut out right away.</p>

<p>I think you are good for Johns Hopkins. I happen to know a few JH alums, and they are very brainy. Very demanding school, intellectually. Rice would probably take you too. I knew a Rice grad once; a brainy nerd.</p>

<p>Remember, it is important to have a “safety” school too. Think about the University of Rochester. Kind of similar to Johns Hopkins, but the weather is really really cold. Could be an adjustment for a Texan. Another safety school might be Georgia Tech. Your interest in Rice and JH indicates your are kind of interested in a scientific major. GT would not require much adjustment for culture or weather.</p>

<p>I see…so extracurricular activities are pretty important in that aspect. </p>

<p>NROTCgrad, thanks for the advice. I knew a former camp counselor who went to Rochester so that is certainly an option for me. </p>

<p>Another good school not too far from Texas is Washington University of St. Louis. I remember reading somewhere that it made the list of schools with the “happiest students.” Also very strong in science.</p>

<p>It’s high gpa first and then extracurricular activities. Just having a lot of extracurricular activities won’t do anything for you if you have a bad gpa. You have a fairly high gpa so you can start adding more extracurricular activities to make yourself more competitive. However, don’t pursue too much so your grades drop. Extracurricular activities won’t matter unless you’re in something significant. Otherwise, it just matters that you have them. If you don’t have quality, at least go for quantity. This means that if you know one of the extracurricular activities you’re doing is not significant, you don’t have to spend much time and attention to it. Work as hard as the reward you’re going to get for it; don’t try hard on something if you won’t get acknowledged for it. You don’t have to like what you’re doing if you don’t have to do too much of it. </p>

<p>Alright. Thanks for the advice! I think I feel more secure about my decisions now.</p>

<p>Remember, everybody needs a “safety school” – which usually means a state university, unless your parents are wealthy (not merely upper income, but wealthy with a capital “W”).</p>

<p>I recommend U.Texas@Austin, of course. If you have another pretty good state university close to home, then maybe apply there too.</p>

<p>Apply to at least five colleges, but no need to apply to more than nine or ten. Determine which school is your “dream” school and apply to it only AFTER applying to at least three others. This way you will understand the application process in general; and will have written a couple of essays and thus can submit a nicely polished one to your “dream” school.</p>

<p>I’m guaranteed admission into most of the majors at UT Austin, so does that mean I should apply early so I can get the experience and have it out of the way before applying to my dream school(s)?</p>

<p>I recommend applying Early Action (not Early Decision because it’s binding) to as many of your schools as possible…I got several decisions in December and the process was less stressful than it would have been otherwise. </p>

<p>Give yourself lots of time to write essays, though. </p>

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<p>Or a private school with guaranteed merit aid. </p>