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"Passion" is No Ordinary Word

Maybe you're too young to recognize the quotation from singer Elvis Costello, but everyone concerned about getting into college knows the truth contained in this title. "Passion" has become almost a term of art for admissions officers. No longer simply denoting strong enthusiasm or excitement, it has come to mean an area of intense focus and achievement on the part of an applicant. Colleges are looking for students who demonstrate that they care deeply about something, whether a sport, an artistic endeavor, an academic subject, or a social goal.

How can a student identify and develop a passion? Freshmen should try a variety of things that interest them, intentionally seeking out experiences in extra-curricular activities and over the summer. Sophomores should begin to narrow down their focus, shedding activities of lesser importance to them. With luck, juniors will land on a single area, dig deeper over the summer, and move into a leadership position in the fall of senior year. A student who has managed this schedule will have a relatively easy time putting together a coherent application to appeal to admissions readers.

It may be unrealistic to think that every high school student will identify a deeply resonating cause by January 1 of senior year. But who ever said the expectations of selective colleges were realistic?

If you could use some help standing out in the application pool, call me at 847-660-8625, or fill out the "Contact Me" form, and I'll get right back to you.

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