Colleges take interest in applicants who have special talents, hobbies, and skills. These special qualities help an application stand out, help define your fit at a school, or fill a college’s need, all of which can boost your chances of being accepted.
A rural college may well like the idea an applicant has outdoor hobbies like white water rafting or bear hunting. Colleges with ice hockey teams need players who are skilled players and skaters. Musical hobbies and environmental interests may fit with a liberal arts college campus, as an interest in jellyfish might look great to a college with a strong program in marine studies.
Indeed, a special interest or experience or talent can help set a college applicant apart and give you an edge with the competition in college admission, but there are some cautions about relying on this specialness getting you into the college of your choice. If you believe a special interest is the key to college admission success, you may meet disappointments.
• Bad Timing – You may be a great stage actress, but what if the college you want to attend just brought in five or six theater students the year before you apply?
• Long-Standing Interest- You may discover you are an avid butterfly collector, but if you just started one or two years ago, you cannot hold a candle to a lepidopterist who has had an interest since fifth grade.
• You’re Good At It – You may love playing baseball and you may practice faithfully and have made the varsity team, but unless you have gotten an award or recognition or been in a championship, you may not be what a college is looking for.
• Genuine Interest – You may have cultivated an interest in cleaning up pollution in rivers. You may well have taken a summer course and been involved in a couple clean-up campaigns, but if you have not consistently taken environmental science courses, done science projects in this area, or done summer work at a local fishery, you may not demonstrate the appropriate level of interest. This is especially true if you have actually spent more combined time on the tennis court than wading in a river.
Following an interest for your own pleasure and to improve your quality of life will always serve you well. But to be resume –conscious and mold yourself strictly for the pursuit of getting into a selective college could actually backfire.