Who fares best in applying to college?

Earlier this week, a student from Sequoia High School in Redwood City, California, wrote a column for Patch.com with a refrain familiar to many—a lament for the more carefree days before the pressure and stress of preparing to apply to college seemed to take over her life.

"It seems like everything I do, sign up for, and participate in is because it somehow will look good on my college application. I volunteer for just about as much as I can muster. I am trying to find my ‘angle’…" Dearborn wrote.

Alice Kleeman, who heads the College and Career Center at Menlo-Atherton High School in neighboring Atherton, California, was struck by the column and emailed us her thoughts. We couldn't have said it better, so we wanted to share her response with you:

"It makes me sad when students believe that to be admitted to college they must try to become someone other than who they truly are.  After working with students applying to college and working with colleges looking for students for 18 years, I can tell you without hesitation or doubt that the students who fare best in the college-admission process are those who have steadfastly been true to themselves throughout high school, never spending even a moment participating in an activity because they believe it will "look good" on a college application.

Students who challenge themselves in classes that interest them most and in which they are strongest (rather than feeling they must take every advanced class); students who spend time participating in activities that truly mean something to them (and only one or two, not a zillion); students who earn the respect of their teachers and counselors (especially for their integrity); and students who are balanced and healthy—who always allot time for family, friends, and reading a good book under a tree on a beautiful day—are those who are snapped up by colleges all over the country, even the most selective colleges.  The colleges know that those students will arrive on their campuses fresh and not burned out, ready to contribute enthusiastically to their new community. Please take a deep breath and dedicate yourselves to enjoying your high school years, not trying to be anyone other than who you are." *

Kleeman has counseled thousands of students in the last eighteen years.  Rely on what she says here. Read more about Kleeman and see more of her advice on our website here.

*A version of this response was posted on Patch.com.

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