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Old 2018-10-20, 21:41   #81
The Carnivore
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Jun 2010

D416 Posts

Originally Posted by jvang View Post
I did a bit of research and the general consensus is that applying to higher-ranked schools becomes more of a lottery once you reach the point where everyone is equal in qualification (perfect GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, etc.).
The key to getting into one of those places is to have something that's different from the pack. You do need good grades and test scores, but it doesn't matter past a certain point - a 3.8 unweighted GPA and 1500 SAT is just as good as a perfect 4.0 unweighted GPA and 1600 SAT.

You can stand out from the pack by being a nationally ranked football star, but a more realistic option for us mortals is to have a unique set of interests. Don't be one of those dime-in-a dozen, sleep-deprived zombies that drag themselves to zero-period music or debate because they think it makes them look good on their college apps or because their parents forced them to.

Think outside the box and show admission officers what your unique passions are and how you overcame obstacles to achieve them. Maybe you're the kid whose parents were too poor or busy to take you places, but you've always wanted to explore the country, find out what's behind those mountain ranges, and wonder what the view would be like from the top. Did you take things into your own hands and earn money doing side gigs during summers and weekends? Did you take it further and use that money to build an ultralight aircraft, learn to fly it, and realize your dreams? If so, that's one heck of a story and a much better use of your time than trying to raise your ACT from an already good 34 to a perfect 36. And even if you're rejected, you'll remember that experience a lot more fondly for the rest of your life than going through the grind to get a perfect grade in a subject you have little interest in but are required to take.

Or perhaps you're the kid who always loved snowboarding but lived in a warm climate with plenty of sand and no snow. Did you make the best of your situation, build your own boards, and try sandboarding instead? Did you like it, get good at it, and maybe even try out for the sandboarding world championship? In the process, what lessons did you learn in determination, perseverance, and dealing with failure? While you may not get as many points as a high school swimmer who made it to the Olympics, it certainly beats doing something conventional like joining the tennis team for a few years and being just a regular player.
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