In the early eighties, when I applied, the buzzword for college acceptance was “well-rounded,” which referred to a student who participated in many different activities.
That is no longer what colleges are looking for from applicants. Now they want to build a well-rounded class made up of students who will each fill one or two slices of their total round pie: in other words, students who are unique, focused, and angular (or express excellence or uniqueness) in their interests.
Peter Johnson, The Director of Admission at Columbia University, echoed this view when I heard him speak recently. Johnson said that Columbia is seeing a rise in what he calls “Niche Applicants” and what I call Angular Applicants. These are students who have already demonstrated a deep independent intellectual curiosity or expertise in a given area from science research to humanities to outstanding athletics. An angular student can also be a student who has developed a degree of excellence in one or two areas—leadership, intellectual curiosity, athletics, or community service—or who has a special talent or exhibits unusual personal character.
I developed The College Application Wheel™ to serve as a framework and tool to assist you in identifying your strengths and “gaps”—areas that you may need to fill in such as community service or higher standardized test scores—it will also help you determine where your energy may best be spent in making yourself shine or stand out from the crowd. It will help you understand what makes you unique, how to find a college that values you for who you are, and help you see where there is a match between you and a specific college.
The College Application Wheel™
The key components of the College Application Wheel are:
- Academics/test scores
- Extracurricular activities
- Intellectual curiosity
- Special talents
Colleges don’t expect you to excel in all eight of these categories, but they do look at these areas to determine if you will be a good academic, cultural, emotional, financial, and character-based “fit” with their institution. So what’s your angle?
Lisa Bleich is founder and president of College Bound Mentor, LLC and the author of Surviving the College Application Process: Case Studies to Help You Find Your Unique Angle for Success. She mentors students from all over the world on the college application process, helping them uncover their strengths and develop a personal plan for success. Lisa holds a BA in European cultural studies and French from Brandeis University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and three daughters. Two of them have successfully survived the college application process!
This post was provided by Lisa Bleich, College Bound Mentor, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on March 22, 2014. Listen to the broadcast on YouTube here.
Photo Credit: University of Nottingham