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Play to your strengths!

Updated: Feb 14

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 less importance on extracurricular activities and leaning more heavily on academics. Spoiler alert: some schools, such as the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, have very competitive admission rates, focusing on the student's academic profile.

Conversely, 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 you want to know which state schools consider the activity list as important as the GPA would be nice? Here you go!

Knowing the relative importance of different application components can help build a balanced 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.

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