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Is being the "Well Rounded Student" bad?

, [edited]

With many blogs and websites claiming that students looking to apply and eventually attend fairly competitive colleges need a spike in a certain subject, does that mean that students like myself, who could be seen as well rounded, will not get into any of our reach schools? For a little bit of background, I am going into my sophomore year with a 4.0 GPA and typically have strong suits in English and history. It is a bit of a problem, seeing as I hope to go into pre-med/medicine in the future, but I digress. My extracurriculars are all over the place in terms of a theme, as I will list below.

- Quizbowl (I was on varsity for the state tournament but then it got canceled)

- Debate (JV, but competed in national qualifiers for two types of debate)

- Soccer (JV)

I'm looking to also join two clubs this year,

- GIDAS (a research club) *In this club I will have a leadership position like treasurer or secretary


I also want to join NHS when I get to be a Junior, but I'm only a sophomore at the moment!

Outside of school I am looking into entering a local writing competition and am planning to apply (as a junior) for a position on my church's youth ministering team. Hopefully, in the future I will also be able to volunteer at a family friend's lab, but I'm thinking of doing that Senior year or the summer between Junior and Senior year. But again, I digress.

The classes I'm taking are Honors English, Honors Algebra 2, APUSH, AP Chem, Spanish 2, and Colla Voce (a choir group for girls at my school) along with some random electives I do not know yet.

My parents tell me that being the well-rounded student is just fine, but they went to college at least 20+ years ago. I want to be a competitive applicant because I am looking to apply to fairly selective schools, but right now I'm doing activities that I enjoy. Please let me know what I can do to strengthen my application and if being the well rounded student is something I should work to rectify. Thank you in advance and I hope you have a good day!

** I forgot to add that I am entering a state competition called History Day where I am entering a historical paper!

Just a word of advice, although you seem to have many interests, I would suggest you try to make sure that you have the time commitment to each of these clubs. You're already taking a lot, and high school gets exponentially harder from sophomore year and onward. Hope you have a good high school career! :)
Hi there! Thank you for the advice and comment! I am probably going to drop Debate if I do drop any clubs. I hope you have a great day!
That's a good move.
depends on college tbh... for ivies/highly selective colleges, you need a theme. For UC Davis or UT-Dallas, then being well rounded is fine, because they look more at grades and stats.
^ exactly what Adri said

4 answers

answered on

So for elite schools such as Ivies MIT Stanford UChicago etc they are looking for a well rounded class not a well rounded student. That’s not to say well rounded students will not be accepted you just need more accomplishments in the well rounded areas. A junior national champion in insert obscure area has the same “accolades” for lack of a better term as a student who is Prez of Debate and NHS and got to State in tennis. I’d recomend building a theme. This video explains it very well

Also as a premed student definitely definitely look at shadowing at a local hospital junior or senior year.

As for selective schools that have a 50% admit rate such as Washington UW-Madison Maryland Penn St etc you merely just need accomplishments not a spike so being well rounded certainly is fine there.

Also if you are looking at a BS MD program think like you are applying to ivies no matter where the BS MD program is at. As nursing/pre-med track is harder than getting into the liberal arts school you’d likely need excellent ECs not strong (refer to collegevines chancing tool)

Hope this helps and please comment if you need clarification as I’d be happy to help clarify!

answered on[edited]

Ok so I disagree with the other answers. It is VERY important that you establish a theme in your application. You need to think about what major and career you want to pursue and do activities and take classes that support that notion. When colleges ask you why you want to pursue a certain major, you need to back it up with your experiences. This can prevent you from getting into top colleges despite having a strong profile otherwise. You mentioned that you want to do premed but I'm not sure what you want to major in. Based on your activites though, I have no clue what you why you want to go into medicine, other than HOSA. You have no experience in the medical field, volunteer or shadowing at the hospital, and im not sure what kind of research you do but it should be medical related. Your activites are good for the most part but I can not stress enough how important it is to establish a theme in your application. Rememeber don't be a jack of all trades master of none.

If you want more detail, I highly recommend checking out some of the profile review livestreams here on college vine. They give an excellent idea of how you should establish a theme in your application. Good luck!

I second the profile review portion.
And also unfortunately the college admissions process 20+ years ago is no where near as competitive as it is now. You will be competing with people with such highly sophisticated and developed profiles that simply being well-rounded isnt good enough anymore. Not to scare you but this is how it is now.
That is partially why I asked this question because I'm not sure what I need anymore to get into the colleges I want to attend. I want to clarify that the research I would be doing in a family friend's lab would be research on cancer, in a lab affiliated with the state university. What specifically, besides volunteering in hospitals (I'm too young) can I do in the meantime to strengthen my application?
well cancer research will be quite helpful if you want to go jnto medicine. Since covid does not allow you to shadow or find volunteer opportunities, you could maybe start a blog, or youtube channel, or fundraiser related to medicine. It would also be a good idea to gain leadership in your schools HOSA club. You just need enough on your application to thoroughly justify why you want to pursue medicine.
Take as many AP IB classes as is feasible and strengthen your accolaodes in your top clubs.
answered on

Just from seeing this, you are still a very strong applicant. Being well-rounded isn't a bad thing it is consistency. If you continue these activities all four years that will show colleges that your are dedicated and can handle the workload. Even though you want to be on the pre-med track you can still express that with your essays and by taking more science-related honors/AP classes.

answered on

Being well rounded is even better than having a non-explainable spike in grades for just one subject. You seem like a very strong applicant already; you shouldn't have any major problems getting into schools of your choice.