A recent article in the Tennessean highlighted the increasing difficulty that students face when applying to top universities in the U.S. In less than ten years, Vanderbilt has gone from accepting 31% of students to 9.3% in 2015. These statistics are not just applicable to Vanderbilt or other top 20 schools. Boston University had over 60,000 applicants. UCLA had around 100,000 applicants. Yet, the number of students that are being admitted are on the decline or staying the same, but never increasing. So what does this all mean with regard to your application next year?
It means that you better be prepared to pull out all the stops to look your best in front of the application committee. According to statistics released by Vanderbilt University, every single person admitted had been a leader in one of their extracurricular organizations. Every single person. This means that you need to not only be a part of diverse extracurricular activities but you need to be doing the best you can to obtain a leadership position. Colleges are looking more and more for students that are revered by their peers. Students who get elected by their peers display that they have leadership qualities. Furthermore, it tells colleges that these students are not only passionate about their extracurricular activities but willing to do as much as possible to make their organization a better organization.
Towards the end of the semester and early into next semester organizations will be holding elections for the leadership boards. This is your opportunity to run for a leadership position. The experience, whether or not you win or lose, will make you a better person in the process. If you are elected, then you will have the opportunity to display qualities that are highly valued in front of colleges.
One thing that should be avoided is an attempt to have multiple leadership positions. Having multiple leadership positions in different organizations can show that you are not really dedicated to a particular cause or organization but rather that you are after the position and not really trying to make a difference in the organization. This is not true for every person because there are plenty of highly talented people around the world.
Nevertheless, if you find yourself being overstretched by extracurricular activities, then you need to focus only on a few of them. Being a leader in an organization means that you are dedicated to that particular organization and willing to do what it takes to make it better. This is the quality these top universities are after. They want someone diverse, intelligent, and passionate. You have the opportunity right now to get prepared to run for your school’s organization’s election. You can demonstrate the qualities colleges want. This is your moment.