For those do-it-yourselfers,
you can purchase Beat the College
Do a Project
by Susan Tatsui-D'Arcy,
Merit's College Advisor
You've heard stories about high schoolers with 4.0+ GPA's and perfect SATs being rejected from Harvard or Stanford. Sometimes these students even have long resumes of extra-curriculars. If they can't get in, what kind of students are these schools looking for?
For selective schools, it's not good enough to just do what is asked. Anyone can study for a test and complete the work they're assigned. Anyone can attend club meetings or show up for practice. Those activities don't stand out any more.
What these admissions committees want are students that also excel outside of the high school setting, students who demonstrate true creativity, initiative, and leadership, students who show the potential to become the next Bill Gates or Hilary Clinton.
How can you convince colleges that you have this level of talent and potential? The best way to do it is with an independent project-not just a class project that consists simply of posters and presentations-an original undertaking outside the classroom that reflects the student's vision, initiative, tenacity, and leadership.
What could this project be? Ideally the project should reflect a student's current passions and future aspirations. Merit students have started businesses, started non-profits, written publications, produced films, conducted experiments, advocated for change, published their own books, and built hydrogen fuel cells.