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the College Essay

There are very few places in your application where you get a chance to show who you are and highlight the parts of yourself you want to showcase, and by far the most important is the college essay...
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The Myth of the Well-Rounded Applicant

Students and parents often believe that what colleges are looking for is a “well-rounded” student. To that end, students load on extracurricular activities—join every club, every team, every community-service group. They spread themselves thin building up a laundry list of activities, and miss out on exploring their passions in greater depth or working to further develop their talents, because they believe that’s what colleges want to see. This is particularly true for students who come from areas like Manhattan, Brooklyn and Westchester, where a huge number of over-qualified applicants are vying for a handful of spots at top schools.

Unfortunately, it’s not. Having a range of interests and activities does matter, but these days colleges are much more interested in finding students who are truly passionate about a few things; they’re looking for specialists, with whom they can make up a well-rounded class of incoming freshmen.

The best thing you can do, as an applicant, is figure out what you have to offer a college community—what your specialty is, your “theme;” how you’re going to pitch yourself, so to speak, to the school. Admissions officers don’t spend a whole lot of time on each application, and you want to make sure that yours is memorable (in a good way). At CATES, we understand how the admissions process works, and we can guide you through it. Learn more »

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