2 years ago
Admissions Advice

How can a high school student with a passion for aviation/aeronautics strengthen his extracurriculars?

I have a perfect GPA, am planning on doing excellent on the SAT, have established friendly relationships with my teachers, have taken numerous Honors classes (I have AP WH, and AP BIO on my schedule for my sophomore year, and will be taking 6 more APs in my Junior and senior year), but I don't know what to do about my extracurriculars... My school doesn't provide many opportunities besides the student government and a few clubs. Outside of school, I take CFI classes and study Aeronautical handbooks. I am hoping to get accepted into a prestigious university, and the current extracurriculars I'm working on are:

University Interscholastic League (UIL) ALL MATHEMATICS/SCIENCES (9th-12th)



DECA (9th-12th)

CIVIL AIR PATROL (10th-12th)


QUESTBRIDGE (11th-12th)

I have started working on a few of these extracurriculars, the new ones are Questbridge, and pick/found aviation club. As for student government, I have already gotten in for 10th.

I also have a few more challenging extracurriculars, and I don't know if they are worth the time and effort:





What extracurriculars should I attempt, and which can be crossed off my list? Are there any other extracurriculars I haven't listed?

p.s. I'm a rising sophomore, and I want to major in Aerospace Engineering at MIT, Stanford, UMICH, or GATECH

Also, I was informed by many sources that colleges look for students that are each proficient in their own, unique area so that they have a student body that has awards/achievements in every area. If everyone was well rounded, they would have nobody that was truly exemplary in a specific topic. This is why I am so focused on aeronautics, it's what I'm best at.

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2 answers

2 years ago[edited]

Since you just finished 9th grade and you have 3 more years of HS and 4 years of college ahead of you, I don't think it's very productive to make a list of 10 or 15 extracurriculars' around a major that might not be your major by the time you apply to a college in your senior year. It's great you have selected something already but most 9th graders shouldn't be focused on something that specific. If you do some more research about MIT or Stanford, they want their freshman class to explore different subjects. At MIT all the freshman grades are pass/fail because they want you to operate outside of your comfort zone and try new things. So without penalty, you can take Mandarin, some cool Media Lab class, Astrophysics or Game Theory and see if you are intrigued enough to go for that instead. After you do more research you will see a pattern that colleges often want flexible, collaborative, creative students not rigid ones on autopilot that keep to themselves. When I went to the MIT info session last summer the main thing that stuck in my brain was that unless you want to use your talents to make the world a better place and are excellent at teamwork and collaboration, we do not want you to come to MIT and you will fail here anyway. Plus I know some students who lied their way in on their essays and got in even though they are not collaborative or friendly and they are finding life at MIT miserable and regretful. Maybe watch some East Campus videos about MIT to see if you can see yourself working with others to make a rollercoaster in the dorm courtyard for fun or participating in an epic "MIT hack" to put a Boston police car on top of the main rotunda during the middle of the night when no one is watching. The other thing that is kind of aloof and disturbing is that your list reminds me of the main character Payton Hobart in the Netflix series The Politician. You shouldn't assume you are going to hold an elected position in Student Council for the next 3 years nor hold and maintain all these leadership positions until you apply to college. Furthermore, 99% of successful applicants didn't have a set roadmap of each and every activity they were going to pursue to get into a particular STEM school. Rather, they understood that intellectual vitality or curiosity should be the driver or impetus for finding a passion and an activity to support it not the other way around. Also assuming you are going to be a Questbridge College Prep Scholar and QB Match Finalist is kind of presumptive as well. Don't be so much about how great you are and focus on finding your passions organically and work well with others. Are you even paying attention to what's happening in the world about racial injustice and prejudice? If you are a first or second gen POC you should care and make a concerted effort to help others during this unprecedented time. The strength of character matters more than ever.

2 years ago

Based on my sister’s experience who got into a prestigious school, Ivy League schools have an holistic approach of selecting their students. Considering that the majority who apply to an Ivy League has almost a full score in their SATs, your extracurriculars and essays will make the difference. You really need to stand out. Colleges look for students that can enrich their learning environments. Plan on doing something that any College would benefit from having you. Take challenging courses (APs and honor classes) if available. Pick Mandarin as a foreign language and keep on until grade 12th. That shows commitment, open to a different culture and willing to make an extra effort to learn a language as spanish or french are easier. German is also good but still not as impressive as mandarin.

Do volunteering work with an impact. It’s not the same to plant trees as to work as a Counselor volunteer at a Camp for special needs kids. Colleges also look what you do during summer. Getting a job and sticking with it throughout summer shows responsibility.

You are a rising sophomore, don’t focus on one direction as colleges look for a well rounded person. Take some art lessons or music. I hope this helps.


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