Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2015 - (Page 41)

planning ahead for college Developing Your Passions and Depicting Them on Your College Applications If you have begun to visit colleges, met with a counselor, or read the blogs on College Confidential or elsewhere, you have heard that selective colleges are looking for students who demonstrate a passion for something. If you're a concert violinist or star athlete, this can be easy to show, but for others it can be a challenge. What exactly does it mean to have passion, and how can you show it? What Colleges Look for and Why Clearly, colleges will evaluate your academic record first to ensure that you have the background and study skills necessary to be successful in the rigorous coursework you will face in college. So be sure to take those advanced courses, earn good grades, and do well on standardized tests if you are aiming for admission to selective colleges. However, it is also expected that you will have extended your learning or been engaged in activities beyond the classroom in ways that demonstrate your passionate commitment to something. Your active pursuit of in-depth learning, achievement in a particular talent, or devotion to an activity is indicative of traits that are valuable to colleges and to your success in life. Depending on your focus, it can be a measure of your drive to pursue excellence and of your persistence to accomplish something, as well as your intellect, curiosity, creativity, energy level, and leadership skills. College admissions officers are interested in attracting passionate, energetic, and talented people to campus who will bring their interests with them and enrich campus life. They seek talented musicians and actors, mathematicians and scientists, poets and debaters, and athletes and community activists, whose contributions will make the college community more vibrant and exciting for everyone. Developing Those Passions If you're reading this as a middle school student, you should still be exploring your interests. Even if you already know that music is a passion, for example, you may find something else that will greatly interest you. Join some clubs, take some lessons, and get involved in your school and community. See what feels good and important to you and is worthy of deeper involvement. by Linda E. Brody, Ed.D. Over time, narrow the number of things you are exploring and become more involved in fewer of them. In your first year of high school, you may find new opportunities that you will want to pursue. Perhaps there is a debating club or a fencing team or a school radio station that wasn't available to you before. If so, jump in and try them, with an eye toward finding the activities most meaningful to you. As you begin to focus, stay involved in what genuinely interests you. Don't choose something just because it might look good on college applications, as time in high school is too precious to waste trying to predict what colleges will want. But pursuing real passions will be worthy of your time, and will also be of interest to college admissions officers. After narrowing your primary focus to one or more domains or activities, consider how you can become involved in ways beyond your school, and also seek recognition for your accomplishments. For example, if math is what you love, take advanced courses, work with a mentor, tutor younger children in math, and strive to excel in math competitions. If it's writing, aim to become editor of your school newspaper or yearbook, or pursue publication in a local newspaper or a national magazine. If it's community service, seek a leadership role and, if possible, public awareness of your efforts. Packaging Your College Application A successful college application tells the story of who you are and how you stand out from other applicants. Describe your unique interests and passions and how you have pursued them. Try to tie what you have done in the past to the person you have become, and to your goals for the future. Describe how your passion relates to your choice of a college major or career, to your enhanced ability to be a leader in any field, or to an avocation that will always be a part of who you are. Be authentic, as experienced readers of college applications can spot fabrications and exaggerations pretty quickly. But if you have followed your passions throughout high school, describing how and why you did so and the impact it had on you should be pretty easy. n imagine 41

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2015

Big Picture
In My Own Words Daniel Kammen, Professor of Energy, UC Berkeley
A Solar-Powered Solution to the Water Crisis Using the sun to purify water
The PolluCell Generating electricity using waste and pollution
More than a Race The Solar Car Challenge
Energy Agenda The power of teen research
Energized! A crash course in fuels of the future
Grease Is Good Helping the environment and the community with biofuel
Fueled by Algae Sara Volz and the powerful potential of pond scum
The Future of Energy Five careers in green power
My Sanskrit Yaatra Connecting with my culture through language
Devoted Awareness My internship with Until There’s a Cure
Selected Opportunities and Resources
Off the Shelf Review of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man
Word Wise
Exploring Career Options Interview with green architect Andrew Thompson
One Step Ahead Six things incoming college students should know
Planning Ahead for College Developing your passions
Students Review: University of Pennsylvania
Creative Minds Imagine
Mark Your Calendar
Knossos Games

Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2015