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06/28/2020 at 01:27AM

What is the best way to bolster ECs?

Hi! I'm a rising senior that has taken 5 AP courses and 2 other dual-credited courses. I've been doing searching into which colleges I would like to go to and recently found out that I would prefer to go to an Ivy League school over most others. I have been very active in my passions and extracurricular activities, however, as I have recently been starting to look at the average applicants that are admitted to Harvard and Yale(which are my preferred two colleges so far), I have noticed that most people are coming into these colleges with massive leadership roles in their communities or having accomplished multiple large feats. I have done some interesting things, but I am having a hard time figuring out good ways to equate them to the presets that are located on the profile tracker. I also am a very uninteresting applicant ethnically(I'm white and male). I do have more complex parts of my identity, such as that my adopted sister from China is deaf, so I am fluent in American Sign Language. I also take part in deaf events and have helped organize some as well(e.g. I assisted in organizing and running a Christmas party for the deaf families around the community).

I have been a speaker on the family track for That Conference which is a technology conference located at the Kalahari in Wisconsin and is fairly large. For that presentation, I prepared a device that functioned off Arduino that converted an electric piano's MIDI output to a light board that represented each key and could assist the deaf community in understanding music and also in being able to enjoy it. I also took/am taking part in Destination Imagination(DI), in which my team and I placed top 10 globally. We also won a Spirit of DI award at the global competition(meaning that your team represents the core beliefs creativity and problem solving to help communities globally). We did that through my ties and experience with the deaf community. I am currently attempting to start a non-school affiliated DI club that would sponsor student teams to go to Global Finals(it is quite expensive). One main portion of my question is this: Would starting a financial organization to support local teams be a large selling point on an Ivy league application, or just a drop in the bucket?

My other main affiliation is with music and drama. I was/will be part of my school Forensics team, where I placed extremely high(1st-6th place in every tournament). I also take part in school plays, where I have netted core(second to lead) roles in every play and I also take slightly smaller parts in the musicals. I intern through my local community theater to help with kids shows as volunteer work and also participate in adult shows where I have had solos and lines. I am also going to be helping with the business side of the school drama by interning for one of our business teachers(he runs the school's drama financials). I worry that all this may not be enough. If it is not, how can I make myself stand out more in terms of these things? Should I branch out?

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2 answers

06/28/2020 at 03:52PM

I agree with Max that your profile needs some work for Harvard and Yale considering that they are highly highly competitive schools. You’re probably aware of this already but your grades/test scores should be a high 3.8 (3.87+) out of 4 unweighted GPA minimum, and a 1500 sat MINIMUM but ideally a 1550 for both of those schools. Your ECs are in good shape IF you want to go into a field like communications/public policy/social service/community-based where helping people and being a community leader is your main incentive.

Here’s what I picked up from you:

- fluent in ASL

- active in deaf community

- community service

- technology (piano) to aid deaf community - combines stem and music to help others

- DI award for creative problem solving

** starting an organization (nonprofit or for profit) is a HUGE accomplishment as long as you have he membership or funding to prove it is legitimate and an extensive effort

more “for fun” / less “centered"

- forensics team competition

- school plays

- volunteer with theater

- intern w business for drama

To get the so-called “World class” extracurricular profile you need to showcase three things: 1) ECs that match/align with your intended major 2) ECs that showcase your leadership abilities, drive, motivation, especially SELF-INITIATED ones 3) long-lasting and DEEP ECs that you’ve participated in for many years. I’ll be quite honest you’re pretty well off, and while your ethnicity/gender is a bit of a ding on your “originality” you don’t have to worry about that since you’re already deviating from the traditional STEM/Business majors that are very very popular at these types of schools. If you are applying w a major where none of your extracurriculars match it (i.e. Political Science, Business, Computer Sci, Engineering, Languages, whatever…) then honestly my best advice is do not declare that as your major. Your profile will not match at all, it will make little sense and you will have showcased no experience in your prospective field of study.

My advice is this: don’t undertake any more activities. At this point you will not be able to make them extensive/long-lasting enough for them to really be substantial and it will look like you slapped stuff on your resume that you were not genuine about. Stick with what you have and see if you can go forward w that nonprofit or organization idea. See if you can become a leader or a head in those groups you are already part of, or join a local/regional deaf community. Also look for some major that you legitimately like that matches your profile of ECs as I listed in the first sentence.

Hope this is helpful, and best of luck

06/28/2020 at 02:33AM

So I’d recommend 9-10 ECs have 1-3 relate to major and have leadership in 3-5 of them.

While I’m not trying for ivies I am interested in Michigan and rice. Rice as of now is highly unlikely unless my essay is out of this world. But Michigan I am competitive and ECs are in many forms.

Family responsibilities ex care for little brother

Have a job

Have a blog


Any type of global recognition is phenomenal and your speech might be bordering on cliche in a good way. See if you can compete regionally or qualify for state/nationals or compete in the national circuit as in compete at ToC bid tournaments (debate).

It seems you have a strong EC profile but do something relating to your major if not done so already and make sure your rec letters are above average and have a top 10% essay and I’d say you have a really good chance assuming GPA (UW) above 3.9 with good rigor and SAT above 1420.