Numbers overrated in college admissions


Sarah Barsky, Opinion Editor

Today is the day you’ve been anticipating the past four years. The reason why you didn’t have a social life, why you spent all your free time volunteering, committing your summers to internships and attending career fairs to learn about possible professions. You spent your last summer working on essays to showcase the wisdom from your experiences that will resonate with your dream schools.
Perhaps you didn’t have straight As or a perfect SAT score, but you thought your unique experiences would make you stand out. You open the email that contains your future a judgment on all the sacrifices you’ve made.


The current college admission process is multilayered. According to the College Press, some of the most important factors in your college application are standardized test scores, grades, and extracurriculars.
Although these factors change depending on the school, the truth is that the majority of colleges weigh numbers, such as SAT scores and GPA, more heavily. According to a blog post by Tom Stagliano who studied at MIT, extracurriculars have almost no impact for public universities, only about 20 percent for the more selective ones and has less than 50 percent of an impact on private universities.

For elite private universities, extracurriculars have around a 75 percent of the admissions importance is placed on extracurriculars, but for these types of schools, Yale University for example, as stated in Prep Scholar the average GPA is a 4.12. If you don’t excel in classes but have valuable extracurriculars, you most likely won’t be admitted to the nation’s most elite colleges.

For the majority of schools, however, extracurriculars don’t have a large impact. What does impact your application the most however, is grades. “Typically a 3.5-4.0 GPA, which means an A- or A average, is expected for admission to top colleges.” according to Prepscholar. So even if you spend your entire high school career pursuing extracurriculars, this won’t matter if you don’t have top grades.

High school students who work to build up their college applications worry that they haven’t done enough to be accepted into top schools.According to The College Board, the point of going to college is to unlock opportunities, become more independent and explore your options. To fulfill this goal, the college admission process should be focused around this aim because the ultimate goal of this whole process is to admit students who will thrive in college.

A few schools that are very highly ranked are, of course, the Ivy Leagues but also include public universities such as Cal, UCLA, and UCSB. For students who are academically driven and aim for a top college, these are the schools they apply to.

Although these students have very high goals and have taken advantage of many opportunities in high school, only a few of them are admitted to these type of schools.  The reason for the stress on grades for college admissions is to measure knowledge. Grades aren’t the only way to measure this. There are more accurate ways to do so. “Your extracurricular activities show colleges aspects of your personality that your grades and test scores can’t,” Prepscholar reminds us.

The ability to successfully pursue well chosen activities should weigh more heavily than the ability to get As on tests. Yes, being able to do well in school is important and students with failing grades certainly shouldn’t be admitted into top schools. But extracurriculars should be more important.

There are more people in the world who can memorize information than people who can turn volunteer experiences into life changing experiences. More people can solve a math equation than those who can use one experience they had at an elder care home into their major.
Many people will argue in favor of the current college admission process. They will say that grades in standardized test should be weighted more than extracurricular activities because it shows how well you do in an academic setting.

Of course, just because a student can collect a laundry list of extracurriculars they should not be given any special recognition. However, if the activities and experiences chosen demonstrate a consistent theme, unique achievements or can be woven together and communicated through an essay, then that’s noteworthy and deserves recognition. The point of attending college isn’t to know everything and force more information into your head; it’s to expand knowledge through experience.

According to Inc., having good grades in school doesn’t mean you’ll succeed in the workplace. Success is about drive, focus and determination. This isn’t necessarily determined by grades.
All that grades showcase is being good at adapting to a specific type of learning and test taking. This is not real knowledge. The college admission process favors students who are good under the pressure of testing, which is irrelevant to success.

Colleges should recognize the true value of extracurricular activities and begin to accept more students who will succeed in college and fulfill the goals of education. Life isn’t about acing tests, it’s about contributing to our world in a meaningful way and taking advantages of fulfilling experiences that life has to offer.