Registration for the 2024-2025 Wharton Global High School Investment Competition is now open!

Registration for the 2024-2025 Wharton Global High School Investment Competition is now open!

Don’t miss your chance to compete in the Wharton Global High School Investment Competition.

Important details, dates, as well as helpful resources and tools can be found here:

The competition is a free, English-based, experiential investment challenge for high school students and teachers that includes an online trading simulator. Participants compete with other students from around the world and learn about finance, teamwork, strategy building, analysis, communication, and the stock market.

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Resumes as storytelling

Resumes as storytelling

There are many optional components of a college application: essays, interviews, video submissions, and what is treated as the most widely optional item, the resume. 

I encourage the submission of an optional resume because it is one of the best places for students to do what every single part of a college application should do: tell their story!

Application data tells a story, essays tell a story, letters of recommendation tell a story, and of course, interviews do, too—but some colleges might not offer the submission of these items. On applications with these items, a resume can help a student story-tell even more. Plus, some AdComs see the submission of optional items as an indication of additional effort or determination to help a school get to know them. That is never a bad look. 

For a resume to be additive, it needs to accomplish a few things: provide detailed information above and beyond what is presented in the activity section of the application, and importantly, help the reader glean something about the student, their academic interests, role in their community, etc. that’s worth communicating. The resume can be a wonderful place to help the reader “make sense” of the application and applicant. 

A typical activity description in the Common Application is only 150 characters! Here’s an example for a student we will call Jane:

Role and Organization: Vice President, Students for Service
Description: Lead weekly meetings w/50+ students, plan/run 8 service events yearly, and won regional award for raising over 12k for Hill Food House organization. 

On the resume, this same student would be able to dive into this role in far more detail, better highlighting their leadership and impact. Here’s an example:

Vice President, Students for Service

  • Lead weekly meetings for a student-run group of over 50+ students and coordinate 5-person leadership team meetings monthly
  • As VP, lead recruitment efforts for the club and helped drive membership from 25 to over 50 students in one year
  • Created new marketing materials in Canva and created an Instagram page for the group
  • Plan an execute 8 service events yearly, including a holiday toy drive, three food drives, a coat drive, dress for success closet, and a two 5k’s
  • Created community survey and learned how to use a survey system to determine needs in the community and what organization to support; collect and analyze all data for the club
  • Established partnerships with three new local organizations in 2021: Hill Food House, Habitat for Humanity, and Women’s Cooperative Center of Salem
  • Club won a regional award for raising over 12k for Hill Food House organization  in 2021

Jane has done a lot for this group! Her 150-character description is a nice, brief overview and is the max she can include in her Common App. However, this activity—and Jane’s role and impact!—really shines when explained in much more detail. 

In reading her app (putting my admissions officer hate on), if I also saw that she intended to major in marketing and wanted to work in the non-profit space (via an essay she submitted), this resume entry would add even more value to her application because it helps tell that aspect of her story. Through this role, we see her dedication to local non-profits and her exposure to marketing, communication, and recruitment efforts, which support her “foundation” for her intended course of study in college. In this way, the resume serves not only as a place to showcase how her time is spent when not in class, her leadership and impact, and her community-mindedness, but also her academic narrative

College is, first and foremost, an academic endeavor. Transcripts tend to tell that story, as well as standardized testing if a student submits it. I’m hopeful students see the resume as a place to tell a story around the foundation they have built for their intended major and even highlight the other ways they intend to make an impact in and on their new community in college.

Every component of the college application can tell a story, and every student has a story to tell.

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Move Over Testing

Move Over Testing

Testing has been on the way out for some time now, and 2021 just might be the year that we see test blind—even beyond SAT subject tests—become more prevalent. 

So with testing on its way out, what’s in?

  • Being interesting, bold, different, eclectic in your interests and pursuits outside of “school”
  • Excellence in something (or a few things), but real excellence, like wow excellence
  • A deep interest in something (or a few things), but real depth, like wow depth
  • Forging your own path…

But this isn’t anything new.

In the past, the most successful applicants we have gotten to know were those who had competitive grades, competitive scores (maybe even a laundry list of them), and on top of that—for the most selective schools—had an interesting resume that told a clear and compelling story. Some activities were even a bit out-of-the-box, rare/unique, or at best a bit surprising; surprising is wonderful in college admissions because so many applications are just the same. If an applicant took an interest to a depth uncommon for someone in high school, even better. 

At the most selective schools, everyone has awesome grades and test scores. One of the main reasons so many applications don’t stand out has nothing to do with testing or grades, but a student’s resume and activities—their life outside of coursework. Many students feel like they are doing something wrong if they are not doing what everyone around them is, like play multiple sports, joining Science Olympiad or Debate, NHS, Interact/Key Club, and minimally taking part in a bunch of other clubs or “service” opportunities they don’t really care about. They do this instead of pursuing a few activities deeply, especially if those activities are not what their peers are doing. 

If we keep moving toward a test-less or less test-heavy college admissions model, students will hopefully have more time to focus on their interests outside of school. What these interests are, and the depth in which they are genuinely pursued, might become more important than ever before as we see the bar on that front rise. 

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Resume/Activity Sheets: Where Less Is Always More

Resume/Activity Sheets: Where Less Is Always More

The resumes we see tend to take two forms: the students who does it all, but nothing very deeply or well, and the students who does very little (to varying degrees of depth and rigor). 

You don’t need to do it all, but you do need to do something, or a few things, really well or to an extent that goes beyond that of your peers. And if you can’t help but spread yourself a bit thin, you can still craft a narrow application (ask us how!). 

Colleges look for students with something unique, a specific talent, skill, or interest to add to their next class. Students who drill down on an interest or two early on in high school will be better positioned to tell a clear, focused story in their applications. By doing so, they hand the reader of their file exactly what they are looking for—they make it easy to see the value you will add on campus.

This might mean doing a lot of exploration early in high school and this is okay. However, don’t be afraid to find something you like, drill down on it, and not do too much else extracurricularly. You don’t want a resume that reads like a laundry list anyway.

Here’s what a few top colleges have to say on the subject via Niche:

  • “You [should] demonstrate a deep commitment to and genuine appreciation for what you spend your time doing. The joy you take in the pursuits that really matter to you – rather than a resume padded with a long list of activities – will strengthen your candidacy.” –Yale’s advice on Activities
  • “When we evaluate an applicant’s activity list, we’re not looking for a specific number of involvements or even specific types.  We are much more interested in seeing an applicant follow their passions and show dedication over time to a few specific involvements rather than spreading themselves too thin.” –USC Admissions Blog
  • “We are looking for students who will contribute their talents, interests, perspectives, and distinct voices to our community… We are more interested in your focus on a few activities over time (such as work, care for parents and siblings, service, or athletics), rather than membership in a long list of clubs—although we understand that some students can balance an assortment of activities.” –Swarthmore College, “What We Look for in a Swattie”
  • “You’re joining a team. And because we’re recruiting a team of people who will work together, we want a variety of strengths and talents that, together, will form a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. So, not every talented student needs to be talented in the same way.” – UNC-Chapel Hill, “Who We Want”

The question I ask a lot when thinking about activities: How much can you meaningfully contribute to more than a few activities? Narrowing down your interests and corresponding activities can provide the time and space needed to engage more meaningfully and at a higher level in the one or two things you love the most. It’s a bonus if these activities relate to your potential college major, or support it in some way!

Remember, colleges seek to build a well-rounded class comprised of students with unique talents and skills, not a class full of generalists.

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