3 months ago
Admissions Advice

Spikes are somewhat overrated

Hi everyone, this is kind of a rant. I know I posted a 'how to craft a spike' post, but that was before I kind of realized that it is kind of dumb. If you don't want to read all this, scroll to the very bottom for my most important point.

1. The scheme of a 'spike' is confining

Many have fell into the trap of not being 'well rounded'. I can say that I personally feel like this is all a marketing tactic. The first time the 'spike' concept came out, it was seen as a revolutionary concept. I myself was blown away as well. However, many now feel confined to stick to one thing. Hmm, theater sounds fun, but it doesn't have anything to do with my math spike! People can't explore other things all in fear of what? Not getting into 50K in student debt from going to USC? We are losing future authors, musicians, and archaeologists because we have grown to fear liking multiple things. It's ok to like art and science. Or even business, math, music, and geography! It is OKAY.

2. Of course, its not the worst thing ever

Some people have their 'thing' like social justice, marketing, or economics. This is great! People can start to develop their future by pursuing what they love. However, this is becoming a hyper-obsessive pressure mill, manufacturing depressed 15 year olds who are saddened by the fact that they don't have their entire life plan sorted out. Pursue what you like! Don't know what that is? Research it! Try new things! After all, college is a place to figure out what you like and hone in on that skill, whereas the new normal is that college is a place to nurture only those who know exactly what they want to do in life- before even being a legal adult. In some ways, this is not bad. Lets say Pat really loves engineering, and he wants to be one when he grows up. He attends engineering competitions and enjoys himself. He goes to college as merely a stepping stone to pursue his dream. This is the ideal version of a spike. Real spikes are almost always natural. A forced spike can work (realizing they like medicine) but mainly flops (ok, I guess poli sci is cool?). Why waste youth trying to be one brand, one package, when you are so much more? analogy lets say you really love shoes. Be the best shoe business! But if you don't have one specific interest and have a variety, be the best department store with tons to offer! Both are perfectly valid.

3. Why its good and bad in college admissions

Spikes can help people, as it shows dedication to the college and they may be a 'diversity' asset to the college (ex. the only archery pro, or the only classical music fanatic in the class) but when there are 20,000 biology 'spikes', how can one differentiate between the 134th Biology Club President and the 852nd Biology Club President? This means you have to stand out. And when someone realizes their interest is too common, this drives people away from it, or makes them have hundreds of sleepless nights just to find things to make them seem different. Its a toxic cycle.

4. sorry?

this is probably coming off as super harsh. I'm sorry. I just want to make sure that people are running to recover from the spike epidemic. PrepScholar, your article helped millions focus on their strengths. CollegeVine, your articles are helping so many people with pursuing their dream.

5. What this means for you

this doesn't mean spikes aren't for you! Focus on your strengths and interests, not prestige and salary. Just because you seem common for your intended major doesn't mean you aren't valid, smart, and awesome. Spikes can help people bridge a theme around an application, and aim for a theme (doing what you love) instead of a forced spike (trying to force a love for a niche interest to seem unique). Natural spikes are the bets kind, and remember to just do what comes natural- not what impressive Sally next door says is going to get you into Yale.

So yeah. I'm glad to get that off me. In conclusion, spikes can be great if it is real- a fake spike is a waste of high school. I really hope this doesn't turn you away from having a spike. I'm just trying to say that you should do what you love, not what makes you seem like the perfect candidate.

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3 months ago

Yeah this is what I have been trying to tell the people around me. It's good to show a spike in one thing (like leadership positions) if it really matters to you but that doesn't mean ignore everything else you like because it doesn't fit with it. Having a spike in only one thing gives admission counselors a one dimensional view of how you are as a person. People aren't only one interest.


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