PURSUING YOUR PASSION – AND TELLING YOUR HIGH SCHOOL STORY
BY ARI WORTHMAN | DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE COUNSELING, LAKESIDE SCHOOL
These days in selective applicant pools, tons of students have high grades, scores and great curricula. Having those pieces makes you admissible, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to be admitted. You need something else to make you jump off the page: great flare or personality, interests that aren’t run-of-the-mill, accomplishments or achievements beyond grades that very few other students have. Sports, clubs, and service are all pretty standard. Unique is key.
When I first came to Lakeside, I knew very little about the benefits of online learning and was curious and maybe a little concerned about the ways in which colleges would interpret Global Online Academy (GOA) coursework on college transcripts.
However, during my first year at Lakeside, I had a student who loved East Asian Studies. She had studied Chinese in our school curriculum, but was always looking for new ways to explore this interest. East Asian languages in particular tickled her fancy and she wished that our school provided her with the opportunity to study a language in addition to Chinese. When she learned that she could take Japanese through GOA, she enrolled immediately.
Needless to say, she loved the class. But she also became a more interesting college applicant because of her GOA class in Japanese. In the eyes of colleges, she was a young woman passionate about East Asian Studies, a department that is undersubscribed on many college campuses; her GOA class in Japanese, paired with her study of Chinese, love for anime, and preference for Korean pop music really jumped off the page in her applications, and in highly selective college admissions where everyone has top grades and fantastic scores, students must jump off the page. Her GOA class in Japanese helped her do that.
In the case of this student, the interest in East Asian studies that was appearing in different areas of her application made her interesting, less “run-of-the-mill” than most college applicants. The fact that she has sought out a way outside of the traditional brick-and-mortar learning environment to pursue this passion not only suggested that she’s determined, passionate and a risk-taker, but also enriched the other elements of her application that focused on her interest in East Asian studies. It gave her a slight “edge” of sorts that jumped off the page in college pools and made her sound different from other applicants.
Not only do many of my students have rewarding experiences in GOA classes, but the variety of classes often enables students to pursue a slightly more obscure interest not offered at a brick-and-mortar school and that helps them read more compellingly in college applicant pools.
Ari Worthman is the Director of College Counseling at Lakeside School (a founding member school of Global Online Academy). Learn more about lakeside school at www.lakesideschool.org.