Juniors Compete to Look More Attractive to Colleges


The school day is finished.  Most kids are dreaming of going home to take a bubble bath and watch Netflix. But in reality, the majority of students are going straight to the locker room to change for a sport, and then from there going to another extracurricular activity. Some are even heading to work for as many as five hours.

After practice and work, some students do not get home until eleven o’clock at night only to start a five page paper, a history reading, a chemistry lab, and twelve pre calculus problems on the law of cosines.

This trend is very common, and is known among the ODA student body as over-scheduling. Juniors especially feel like they have to be well-rounded in academics, sports, jobs, and other extracurriculars in order to make themselves look more attractive to colleges.

In fact, each winter the College Counseling office asks juniors to list all of the activities, clubs, and extracurricular activities that they have done during their high school career. This is called a “Brag Sheet.” A Brag Sheet is an Excel document where you list everything you have done freshman through junior year, and predict what you will be doing senior year. Students must also list how many hour per week and for how many weeks they do each activity. This is due to the College Counseling office by mid February.

Junior year is known as the worst as far as over-scheduling to become the best student possible.

This is the time to buckle down and make yourself a well-rounded student. Colleges are looking for students who can balance academics, sports, extra-curriculars, jobs, and a social life.

Juniors begin working closely with their college counselors on Brag Sheets, essays, the Common Application, and teacher recommendations. Juniors are constantly filling their plate with more than they can handle because of the competitiveness of getting into the “best” college.

Colleges are looking for the students who are able to balance everything and still maintain their grades. College is more competitive than it has ever been.

It is important to be consistent. Colleges like to see students who are passionate. For example, it is better to do the same sport for four years than a different sport every year.

Some students think that all the preparation that goes into getting into college is excessive.

Junior Annika Lange said “It’s awful.” Lange elaborated by saying “I think the pressure of college at ODA is so much more than at other private schools. They focus so much on the college aspect and they make it feel like if you don’t get into your top schools your life is basically over.”

ODA college counselor Jacob Harding disagreed with Lange’s comment about pressure by saying, “In my experiences…the stress levels … are far less (at ODA).” Harding then gave some words of advice, “I think that the most important piece here is to remember that one year does not make the college process by overloading your junior year to impress colleges.”

When asked about standarized testing, Lange said, “I think the SAT doesn’t determine whether a student is wise at all. It doesn’t accurately describe the abilities students have. You’re under so much pressure.” On this point, Harding agreed with Lange.

Harding also commented on juniors over-scheduling by saying, “You need to be longitudinally involved freshman to senior year.” Harding later said, “They (college admissions officers) are not fooled.” College admissions officers know based on your Brag Sheet when you are over-loading your schedule because you were not involved enough in your freshman and sophomore years. Harding said, “you need to be involved and have good grades.”

So remember, when you are doing your anatomy homework and writing your paper on the Scarlet Letter and considering filling out a job application while babysitting, make sure that you have time and can mentally handle this overpowering schedule.

Also make sure that you are doing all of your activities for the right reasons, not just to load up your Brag Sheet. Be involved in projects and organizations that you are passionate about, and let that passion explode through your hard work.

There’s no shortage of great college choices.