30 Minutes a Day: The Surprisingly Simple Way to Stand Out in the College Admissions Game

As a college counselor, I get a lot of questions about the most effective strategies for gaining admission to competitive colleges. It is my firm belief that dedicating 30 minutes a day for a full year to the steps below can transform high school students into compelling college candidates with a fraction of the stress faced by those who overload their plates with a grueling slate of extracurriculars.

  1. Google any topic that piques your interest and add “Just For Dummies. The “For Dummies” series provides a wealth of articles (and their famous books) on a wide range of topics written in easy-to-understand language. Once you have read enough of this series, you will be far from a dummy yourself.
  2. Watch educational YouTube channels like CrashCourse or TedEd to explore topics that you are curious about. We all know YouTube will be a big part of your diet; don’t neglect to eat your fiber.
  3. Go on a walk and listen to podcasts, especially ones like Stuff You Should Know or Everything Everywhere, which offer short snippets of high quality, high interest material. What could be better than getting exercise and expanding your mind all at once?

College is a bottom-line business. One of the dirty secrets of the industry is that a large factor in admissions decisions is the future earning potential of their graduates. The creator economy will be king in the world our children will inhabit, and nothing predicts success in this market as clearly as genuine intellectual curiosity. Young people who somehow manage to retain their childlike wonder at how the world works and never stop asking why will rise to the top when admissions committees are meeting.


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