Can you pogo your way into college?
One of my bugaboos with the college admissions frenzy is that it leads students to seek activities that will “look good” on their applications. Somewhere lost in the process is doing activities simply because you enjoy them. Maybe it’s crocheting. Maybe it’s jumping on a pogo stick. Maybe it’s watching every Hitchcock movie ever made. You might genuinely enjoy any of those activities but think they won’t look good enough on your application. Should you crochet caps for babies in an orphanage? Should you learn to pogo so well, you get to pogo across the football field at halftime? What if you become such a Hitchcock buff, you teach a Hitchcock class at the local community center? Any of those would indeed “look good” on your application. They’d make great essay topics. But none of them will guarantee admission anywhere. Getting into a selective college might be a side effect of doing interesting things, but it shouldn’t be the sole reason.
That last thought comes from one of my favorite blog posts on this topic, by an admissions officer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The post, called "Applying Sideways," is all about authenticity. Students want to know what they need to do to get into a “good” college. What you need to do is find what you enjoy and delve into it, regardless of how it affects your application. Before you promise 500 crocheted caps to the orphanage, ask yourself, "If I don't get into my dream school, will I regret having spent time on this?" If the answer is yes, don't do it. Keep it real, follow your genuine interests, and trust that the rest will follow.