Columns

College with Cam and Ken: Part II – “Your ECs are weak”

Hi all!

In this installation of College with Cam and Ken, we want to share something – something you are not allowed to blame us for if it changes your life, and not for the better. We don’t know how many of you know this, but there is a website out there in the ether called College Confidential, where people post about the college admissions office and ask for advice. “Oh how lovely,” you say. “There are teenagers in this big, disconnected world who reach out and help each other over the vastness of the Internet.” Wrong. You are dead wrong.

In our opinion, College Confidential is the mother of all message boards, teaming with a terrifying collection of admissions lunatics ready to wring your little heart.

On every page the site brims with horror stories: completely overqualified applicants, smarter than you, smarter than 90% of the people on this earth, denied admission outright.

We, as a collective unit, have lost many an hour of our lives on this site. We have watched our self-confidence quashed like a little bug under College Confidential’s army of ultra-competitive nerds.

But we didn’t want our reader to ever go through a fate like that, so we performed a little experiment.

This is a list of extracurriculars from a student who applied to a very competitive school:

Extracurriculars (place leadership in parentheses): Founded a nonprofit for research against animal testing, 2 Sport Varsity Athlete (Captain), French Honor Society (President), National Honor Society, Lead Trumpet in a bunch of music ensembles (won national competitions), Founded a gymnastics team for rehabilitated gymnasts, Chemistry Club (President), Won some marathons

Job/Work Experience: Neurology Research Intern, PETA Intern, Humane Society Marketing Intern

Sounds a little scary doesn’t it?

Well, it does until you take a closer look.

So the idea that a high schooler could found a nonprofit against animal testing that goes beyond a resume-filler is ludicrous, but you can take that one or leave it.

National Honor Society is the next verifiable one because we don’t know where this person goes to school and let’s be clear: This is not really an extracurricular activity. If you have a certain GPA, you can sign up for this online, but it doesn’t involve any commitment. It is even less of a commitment than CSF because each chapter determines membership requirements.

Rehabilitated gymnasts? We went all over the Internet trying to find a definition for this term, but sadly came up short. Our best guess is that this person means “disabled” gymnasts but wouldn’t you need a professional to actually teach that class then? Highly questionable.

Won a few marathons, ok. This was probably a lot of fun, but it does not seem to really give any significance to this application other than that she occasionally had fun at a challenging event. Should we put all the hikes that had us break into sweat on our college applications?

The neurology research intern really gets me (and this is Cam speaking.) I mean, not only do none of her other extracurriculars involve neurology, but it’s hard enough to get an internship with a general practitioner, no less a neurologist. Again, highly questionable.

When you check with the PETA and the Humane Society there are no opportunities for high school interns or especially in marketing so. . .

There you have it. Many of these “sparkling” extracurricular activities are questionable, at best.

So the next time College Confidential stresses you out pause, reflect, and get the heck of that website!

‘Til next time,

Cam and Ken

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