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Play to your strengths!

Test-optional environments exist for students whose high school work is stronger than their admission test scores. However, have we ever considered the opposite situation where a student's academic profile is much stronger than their list of activities or essays? Perhaps the student is more introverted or not as comfortable talking about themselves or joining what I refer to as "sign up clubs."

Schools that publish the common data set will list the relative level of importance of extracurriculars. Nearly all selective private schools list extracurriculars as very important or important. However, some selective state schools don't care so much. This school list identifies flagship state universities with lower importance on extracurricular activities and leans more heavily on academics. Spoiler alert: some of these schools, such as the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, have very competitive admission rates, focusing on the student's academic profile.

On the flip side, what if you have a student with a stellar activity list but perhaps admission test scores that do not add value to the application? Wouldn't it be nice to know which state schools consider the activity list as important as the GPA? Here you go!

Knowing the relative importance of different application components can help build a balanced application list. Below is the rubric each school lists in the common data set - the one below is for the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. We look at each school's rubric, log the data and help students determine if a school's application review plays to their strengths.