Back To School: Your Child Will Get Into College. Even Without Three Extracurriculars In Kindergarten

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Back to school takes on a different connotation for parents who have their kid’s whole scholastic career already mapped out. While some children enjoy coming back into the classroom, reuniting with their peers, and being presented with new academic challenges, others are returning to campus already burned out from a whole summer’s worth of activities and summer classes.

More kids are presently applying for college than ever before, which can leave many well-intentioned parents scrambling for how to get their kids to develop some type of edge now — whether that be multiple languages, musical prowess, or artistic skills. Instilling strong study habits in children is admirable, but spreading them between a day’s worth of classes as well as multiple afterschool commitments can tire kids in more ways than having them sleep solidly at night — they can give up altogether.

Parents who are in a financial position to offer their children an array of enriching opportunities outside the classroom are incredibly fortunate. Every child should be as lucky to have to choose between taking ballet or tap, piano lessons or after school chess, as these activities present time to cultivate interests that many children in the world don’t have access to. But kids who are dragged mercilessly from one class to the next without developing any real investment or joy in an activity are at risk for maintaining a disinterest in all scholastic or extracurricular endeavors.

Child should be encouraged to try a multitude of hobbies, specifically whatever interests them and is available to them. But somewhere between wanting children to “well-rounded” and making use of every opportunity, parents can unintentionally overload their little ones with schedules that can often mirror that of their parents.

Regimented days over weeks of calendars don’t necessarily give evidence to genuine enjoyment or the refinement of any particular skill.

Even if college acceptances is your ultimate bottom line for your kids, children should stand apart on their applications not for having excelled in everything — but rather in whatever realm has captivated them the most during their time in school and remember — that may not necessarily take the shape of a particular class or trophy.

As much as many colleges want bright kids, which can be evidenced in awards and accolades, many of them also want unique kids. Students who can produce novel ideas and concepts which can be further developed upon entering a university or college.

A valedictorian with straight 5 AP scores in all subjects and a semester in Italy is surely a student who college admissions boards have admitted before. He or she is a safe bet for keeping the university’s GPA intact, but what about — as my father referred to when I was applying to college — wild cards? Kids who may have skimmed by in math and history, but who have developed a strong proficiency in French? Bookworms who maybe procured a “C” in chemistry but already have the literary penchant of a college sophomore? Kids who have established on-campus clubs dedicated to animal rights? Students who single-handedly maintained the literary magazine for all four years?

These particular intersections of prediliction as well as passion convey a more nuanced student who can’t be summed up in merely writing “valedictorian” under their name. Not displaying mastery in every subject or every class or every hobby can differentiate your child and sometimes make them stand out even more.

Kids don’t have to shine in everything to be noticed by college admissions. They just have to shine.