Super students

Super-Applicants have high grades, test scores and, oh, they’re publishing original research, playing sports and volunteering too. From New York Magazine:

With more students than ever applying to college � a full 1.2 million more last year than in 2000 � not even flawless SAT scores can open doors at Harvard, which rejects one in four applicants with a perfect 2400. Is your kid ranked first in his class? So are some 36,000 others: Last year, Penn and Duke rejected about 60 percent of the valedictorians who applied.

A college counselor evaluates the admissions chances of some super students. The Asian-American math whiz with perfect SATs is downgraded for weak community service. I thought well-rounded was out and “passion” was in this year for college admissions. The counselor also points out she’s competing with other high-scoring math/science students — “(and a lot of other Asian students in particular)” — to get into elite technical colleges.

About Joanne


  1. Hmmm… I wonder if I could get into Harvard?

    Rory H.

    Central Carolina Technical College, Sumter
    GPA: 3.8
    SAT: probably somewhere around 2000 if I studied for several months.
    AP scores: Whats AP?

    Academic honors: Presidents Honor List for Part Time Students. Honor Graduate in Track Vehicle Mechanic School, US Army 1988.

    Extracurricular activities: Currently raising six children from the ages of 8 months to 16 years old. Frequent visits to Jails, Doctors Office’s, First Sergeants office, Hospitals, and Public Schools. Stationed for 12 years in Europe with the United States Air Force. Able to order beer in seven different languages. Been drunk in over 50 cities in 9 nations, on 3 different continents and four islands. Spades champion of Switzerland, 2001. Amateur blogger on eduction, despite no practical knowledge or experience. Acting as surrogate father figure to the 23 young Airmen I supervise.

    Sports: Huge USC Trojan Fan. Family tag champion. Undefeated kid tickler and wrestler.

    Applying to: Who ever will take me.

    My chances: Slim to none.

  2. “The fact that she has been doing independent research since ninth grade shows commitment” on the part of the adults in her life.

    Behind every one of these kids who agreed to be profiled is a pantheon of adults setting up opportunities that the child could not know about, could not ask for, and could not take advantage of without a lot of help. You have a “passion” if someone dropped it into your lap and it didn’t roll off.

    I like Liming the math whiz and the Matthew the latin whiz. At least mathemtics and classical languages are within the normal reach of teenagers. In the olden days, a kid could prove his or her ability to succeed in college by excelling in a traditional academic subject, rather than by being set up to do expensive lab work to find a cure for cancer. And isn’t lab work so… 90’s?

  3. Is there any room for deep thinkers or is it all about being insanely frenetic? The message: non-hyperactives need not apply.

  4. Wayne Martin says:

    It would seem that being Class Valedictorian could be hazardous to one’s chances of acceptance to a top notch university.

  5. M. J. Wise says:

    This is just my perspective, but going to “Big Name U” for undergrad is a waste of money and effort for a lot of people unless you know exactly what you want to go into and the university to which you’re going is very well regarded in that area.

    I went to “Fourth Tier State U” for my undergrad, did great and got a paid fellowship for a masters at “Much More Prestigious Public U” where I am finishing up now. Given that I last the last month or so, I will graduate actually having more money to my name than when I started college. Personally, if anything I’ve heard from undergrads here at Prestigious U is accurate, I think I had higher quality of instruction for a lot of the lower level undergrad classes. To engage in a gross generalization, prestigious schools have lots of big name research professors that really don’t care about teaching the 100 and 200 level courses. But to each their own.