It is true that the most important factor that most colleges look at are your grades and the classes you took to get those grades. Second most important are your test scores. The problem is that grades and test scores only get you considered for the most selective colleges. Alone, they won’t get you in. Have a 4.0 unweighted GPA at a very tough high school. Great. 2,400 SAT. Wonderful. Enough for admissions? Nope.
The most selective colleges want more.
They want to see that a student has a passion for something. What, isn’t that important. It might be volleyball or soccer. It might be classical Indian dance or acting. What is important is that it is important to you and that shows through your commitment to the activity.
Now that commitment can mean very different things depending on the activity but it is usually obvious. I tell students that if I can look at their list of activities and say that this kid has a focus on biological research, then their passion is showing through.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the only thing you do relates to your passion but you do need to have the passion show through.
It used to be that selective colleges were looking for well rounded students. Not anymore. Now they are looking for well rounded classes. And within that class, there are all of the individual students with their particular focus. Put together, all of their students form a well rounded class.
Ideally, colleges also like to see students that have been actively involved in volunteering, have some leadership and can write well as reflected in their college essays. And to strengthen your application even further, if you can tie your volunteering, leadership and writing into your passion, all the better.
Don’t try to make up an interest. It won’t work. Figure out what you like to do and then do it. Work to make your self better at your interest. The best thing about all of this is that the college is rewarding you for doing what you like best. And that is really what is important.
Now I don’t want you to go away thinking that you need a 4.0, a 2,400 and a demonstrated passion to be competitive. Yes you need good grades and test scores but colleges are willing to look past perfection if you truly are an interesting student. And that is what you passion shows.