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Marlborough School Student Newspaper
The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

Lizze Small Contributing Illustrator
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April 12, 2024

Instagram isn’t for college advice


Second semester of junior year comes with many milestones: Ring Ceremony, an excruciatingly busy AP season and the inevitable college freakout. While this chaos is different for everybody, students will oftentimes question the adequacy of their activities for college applications. Have I joined enough clubs? Have I acquired enough leadership positions? Is there still enough time for me to start an internationally renowned nonprofit before summer? Some people may begin to ponder: Is it better for me to be well-rounded or specialized?

 For many years, the prevailing messaging around this idea has encouraged students to be well-rounded. Frequently, students are told that getting good grades in difficult courses and demonstrating a wide variety of interests would help them get into college. Why wouldn’t it be beneficial to excel in a variety of different areas? However, recently, this advice has morphed. On social media,  many college counselors who post free advice frequently recommend that instead of being well-rounded as many people previously thought, high schoolers should strive to find their “point.”

“Elite colleges don’t want well-rounded students, they want a well-rounded class,” Kelsey Hoskin claimed on her college consulting Instagram account, ‘harvardhoneyyy.’

In addition to countless social media-based college counselors, many college counseling websites have contributed to the well-rounded vs. pointy debate. Crimson Education, a college consulting company, asserted that it is better to be “well-lopsided” than well-rounded. They claim that striving to be well-rounded can put pressure on students, negatively impacting their mental health and making them feel that they are not living up to hefty expectations. Crimson Education suggests that students choose extracurriculars based on an area in which they are deeply interested. For example, if your ideal major is “English,” you might join the newspaper, take high-level creative writing classes and start a non-profit related to writing. 

Similarly, IvyWise, another college consulting company, advises students against becoming “a jack of all trades and a master of none.” They claim that presenting specific expertise to admissions officers gives them a better notion of how applicants will benefit their school and differentiates seniors from the rest of their fellow applicants. IvyWise echoes the popular sentiment expressed by Hoskin, Crimson Education and many other college consulting companies: Schools want a well-rounded student body, not well-rounded students. 

While all this advice seems compelling, we have some wisdom to offer following our foray into the college admissions world. Figure it out on your own. There’s no right answer. The pointy vs. well-rounded debate is an oversimplification of the college process. The truth is that it’s not a linear process, and there is no one thing you can do to ensure admission to your dream school. The advice from these online sources is oftentimes a generalization, and it is impossible for these people or sites to completely encompass or speak to your college application experience. They don’t know you. They don’t know your story. They are offering guidance that doesn’t account for the specific circumstances and details in your application. Our pitch: Take advice from people who know you, specifically, your Marlborough college counselor. Tell them everything about you, and they will be able to offer targeted suggestions that ensure all aspects of your story are taken into consideration when forming your application. 

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