Dr. Karyne Messina





Book online


Psychotherapy | Testing | Psychoanalysis | The College Edge | Career Counseling | Coaching | Couples and Family Counseling | Mother/Baby Interventions | Custody Evaluations

Getting into the right college is important for many students and parents. The years leading up to the time when applications are due are stressful. Many people enroll their children in 10 or more activities to make sure the right college wants their son or daughter. Kids often run themselves ragged going from a school club to soccer and then to their violin lesson. The next day the routine is very similar, often with different activities. This is in addition to homework. And then there are traveling, team sports on the weekends. For some adolescents, this becomes a daily or weekly routine that is manageable but others become overly anxious or depress.

This way of trying to get into top choice schools may work but is this really what college admission's committees want from their incoming freshman? Some experts say it is not multiple activities that sets a student apart. What many top schools are looking for are unique activities that students know well. After reviewing many articles as well as talking to admissions personnel, it appears that quality is more important than quantity. Being passionate about a talent or skill that is unique and knowing it well appears to be more important than doing lots of activities just to fill in the space on the application.

Even if you are convinced that your child should be involved in many activities, having a passion for one thing done well seems to be what makes a real different when it comes to getting into one's top college choices.

Here are few ideas of things that could fit into the category of unique activities. Examples might include being a ranked chess players or showing leadership skills by being the first person in school to start a charitable organization. Other examples could include excelling in Mindcraft, blogging for an online news service, learning how to blow glass, being excellent at fencing, having a black belt in karate,  etc. Winning competitions in these activities also helps. If your child competes in regional or national contests that is even better.

Another advantage of encouraging your children and adolescents to develop a real passion for something, which also helps them stand out on their college applications, is the possibility that they could come to love the activity and stay with it. It could become a lifelong avocation that is enjoyable versus being on a sports team as an adult, which may be less likely to occur.

It is also important to do meaningful things during the summer months. Colleges don't look favorably on doing little that is productive during the summer months.