Importance of Outside (Leadership) Activities
What is so important about an applicant’s outside activities and this notion of being “well-rounded”? And why is leadership in one of these outside activities — sports, clubs, student government, etc. — so important to the college admissions process? How do you view these things?
College and university administrators are looking for potential campus leaders, people who may transform the school, and thus are looking for applicants who had outside interests — passions — and who will likely continue those activities at the college level.
Here are the answers to this question from each member of our panel:
Eric W. Fulcomer, Ph.D., Bluffton University
We want well-rounded students because these students have the ability to be academically successful as well as to contribute to an active campus life. We want student leaders because they are crucial to the success of our student life on campus and because they will be community leaders after leaving college. If a student is less successful academically but has been actively involved while in high school, we assume that this student can be successful. We also give scholarship consideration to student leaders.
Terry E. Whittum, Stetson University
For most colleges and universities, the students who apply for admission are already academically qualified for admission. Students do a remarkable job of understanding which institutions are good academic fits for them. Outside activities, especially those activities involving leadership, allow the admissions team to admit students who have something other than strong academics to offer the institution. Almost all of us would rather have the B+ student who is involved in student government and a musical group, for example, that the B+ student who never leaves his room.
Joyce Lantz, Valparaiso University
At Valparaiso University, most students balance and manage a wide variety of activities inside and outside of the classroom. When making an admission decision, we are simply looking for students that will fit well in this kind of environment. Valparaiso University continues to foster the leadership skills that our new students bring to campus. In addition, the committee realizes the importance of time-management during a student’s collegiate career. These time-management skills are often learned through involvement with outside activities such as sports, clubs and student government.
Eric Kaplan, Lehigh University
It is important that a student is involved. However, the ways that they are involved are less important than that they are involved. We want students who bring many talents and interests to Lehigh and therefore we are not in search of a prototype. We want campus leaders but not everyone should be a leader. College is about developing potential. Many students will learn new about leadership or develop new interests while in college.
Dr. Brian Sajko, Eureka College
These activities and leadership in them, along with grades, shows that the student understands the application of knowledge they have gained. A student might even have less than stellar grades but the involvement at a leadership level in activities shows, perhaps, why. We all understand that it is difficult to everything exceedingly well so activities show that the student is handling the balancing-act of life well. In other words, they are a responsible person who can balance life.
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