The Stanford University alumni magazine recently had an article discussing admissions to Stanford and what the admissions office was looking for in admitting students.
While the article discusses admissions at Stanford, you could easily substitute the name of any highly selective college and the article would read the same. The article reinforces what I tell all of my students. Good grades and test scores are important. But grades and test scores alone will not get you admitted to any highly selective college. It is everything else that you bring to the table that decides who is going to be admitted.
Do you have a passion? Do you have something that is your focus that drives you to succeed? Will you make the college a more interesting place if you are admitted? These are the types of questions that the colleges are asking. Unless you can answer yes to questions like this, your chances of admittance are not great.
But even if you have a passion, sometimes that is not enough. I liked the example in the article about tuba players. I played tuba in high school and was actually recruited by several colleges for the instrument. But if the college admitted 5 great tuba players last year, no matter how good you are, it probably isn’t going to be enough because they don’t need more tuba players.
Get the good grades and test scores. Develop a passion for what ever excites you. And when you apply to those selective colleges…. make sure you also have a school on your list that you would be happy to attend that would also love to have you. Options are always a good thing to have.