Leadership vs. Awards

Can taking initiative/start a program from scratch that touches many people’s lives but doesn’t win awards be a strong EC/hook, or do strong ECs mean formal awards/ acceptance to competitive programs? eg can activities like organizing protests or starting a program that educated hundreds of people compete with competitive summer programs, science competitions, ect? I’m worried because I am interested in top schools with ~20% acceptance rates but my main EC is a local organization and I have no competatitve programs/awards.

Although competitive awards/competitive programs can be helpful for colleges to see third-party-evaluated “excellence” of a student, It’s DEFINITELY not necessary. Genuinely loving your organization, investing your time, motivated by the cause, un-deterred by obstacles, persevering for a mission–those are the most important qualities in life. I’m not an admissions officer, but I believe that if you love your initiative and that’s where you want to spend your efforts, go for it!

When I was a freshmen, I remember worrying about getting into top-tier fancy programs, winning national awards, and formulating an application like the typical College Confidential applicant. I learned very quickly that what really makes you stand out in 20% selective colleges is authenticity, passion, and perseverance.

I probably over-explained, but in conclusion, don’t worry about not winning awards or getting into programs. Truly, do what makes you happy and show that passion on your application. :smiley: You are going to do amazing, and you seem like such a qualified student ANYWHERE ლಠ益ಠ)ლ

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Love has little to do with a tippy top admit.

And OP, brand new here, hasn’t shown anything about his/her qualifications.

Yes. Plain old advocacy can be fine. Awards aren’t the be-all.

But lots of kids overestimate how many lives they touch. It can deflate your impact. Likewise, it’s not about “founding” but doing. Lots of kids could “do” without needing to start a new program.

Think about what it says when you do this.

And big difference between “starting a program” and then noting protests.

Don’t overestimate.

Try to get a read on what matters to your targets.