Finding Your Spike: Building strong extracurriculars

Recorded Thursday, April 1 at 09:00 PM

The recording will load in a moment.

About this livestream


Have you heard Elias's signature catchphrase "spiky beats renaissance" on air and been completely baffled as to what that means? Well, we've told Elias he can't use it unless he elaborates, so in this stream he'll walk you through CollegeVine's best advice on approaching extracurriculars (so that your "spike" can beat someone else's "renaissance").

Elias will give you a rundown on how to cultivate a strong narrative through your extracurriculars, and share plenty of tips and tricks you'll need in order to find your spike and make your profile stand out to admissions officers.

Elias' advice is like a COVID vaccine: hard to find, but extremely valuable. So don't miss out on this opportunity and come prepared to drop all your admissions-related questions in the chat.

Your host

Undergrad College: Harvard University '17

Major: Music

Graduate College: University of Michigan, M.M.

Work Experience: Now in my fourth year at CollegeVine, I have helped dozens of students gain acceptance to their top-choice schools and have also advised and mentored thousands more through my livestreams. Apart from my work at CV, I am also a professional conductor and a multi-instrumentalist. I currently serve as the music director of the Apollo Ensemble of Boston, and I have led symphonic concerts and operatic productions throughout the United States.

My Admissions Story: Initially interested in pursuing a career as a performing cellist, I applied almost exclusively to music schools with dual and double degree options and ultimately enrolled in the Tufts University/New England Conservatory Dual Degree Program. Unhappy with the combined program and worried I'd never feel like I was fully a student at either school, I logged back into in October of my freshman year. I can't say I went about the transfer process in the smartest way (I only applied to two schools!), but Harvard miraculously accepted me (or 'excepted me' as I wrote in a celebratory Facebook post that day - no one ever let me live that one down), and the rest was history.

Audience questions

These are questions from the audience that we had time to answer during the live session. If you have any other questions, you can request an answer from Elias and other CollegeVine experts in an upcoming livestream or on the Q&A Forum anytime.
5:01@sidney:Elias we miss uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu
18:27@sp:Are there some schools that look for more of a well rounded applicant then someone with spikes?
20:32@sidney:Did you get intoColumbia as a chemistry major only with music extracurriculars?
23:52@sidney:Why did you choose Tufts over Columbia?
26:08@anonymous:Columbia has a dual degree program with Juilliard
29:21@sidney:Can I be good at anything to be impressive for AOs? Or do I need to be impressive in the extracurriculars that relate to my major?
31:28@anonymous:Does Columbia have a dual degree program with Manhattan School of Music?
32:21@sp:Could you give examples for awards to apply for?
33:57@sidney:Are spikes important for undergrad business schools?
35:19@anonymous:What about being really good at 2 things instead of being REALLY good at one thing?
41:49@sidney:As I said, I'm really passionate about environment and business, is there any way that I can connect both of these passions?
43:21@anonymous:how about history(specifically classical) and economics
46:22@sp:Is there a way for me to link economics and biology on my application?
47:32@anonymous:I am good at STEM, and also really passionate about writing. How to connect these two passions?
48:43@bhavyalinga:how can i connect computer science with my passion for teaching
49:56@sidney:I'm loving this livesream
50:11@MohidBasha:How about neuroscience/psychology and business/economics?
51:19@sidney:Do you think that my chances are increased if I'm really passionate about something unique?
52:03@anonymous:Columbia University Teachers College has an entire department devoted to computer science/technology and education.
52:30@anonymous:i'm interested in the environment and have only really developed my interest in stem in my later years of high school. my extracurriculars are all over the place or seem humanities related (debate, flute, frisbee, clubs, etc). should i try to find connections between my ECs or try to get involved in new ones?
54:40@anonymous:how important is debate i heard its like a smart people thing
55:00@sidney:Can you talk a little about some of the spikes that you have seen at Harvard?
56:03@anonymous:what are examples of spikes for intended psychology majors?
57:04@elena:Is it too late to find a spike as a current junior?
57:28@sidney:Do 'safety schools' care about spikes?
58:03@sidney:Would you say spikes are the most important thing for getting into great universities?
58:36@anonymous:Nathen Chen, the 4 time US National Men's Figure Skating Chamption and 3 time World Men's Figure Skating Champion was admitted to Yale two years ago.
59:01@anonymous:what merges psych and engineering
59:36@stemcurious:Can a capstone project count as spike?
59:48@anonymous:why is your brain fried?
62:18@anonymous:what was ur sat score
62:36@sidney:Do you already speak german?
62:41@stemcurious:Any suggestions for spike project in biology?
62:47@anonymous:is switching interests/intended majors in sophomore year too late?
63:06@anonymous:would you say college admissions are luck
63:55@anonymous:high school^
64:04@anonymous:how do you have higher than 50% chance to schools like that
65:09@sidney:What is the funniest essay you have ever read?
66:19@anonymous:how do you make yourself differnet from typical applicants
67:36@sidney:Thank you so much Eliasssssssss
68:02@anonymous:elias can we hear u sing


How to write the why school essay

How to write the Cornell essays

Get to Know Bucknell University

Letters of recommendation 101

Most recent recordings