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College applicants know how important high school extracurricular activities are in selective admissions. However, hardly anyone tells them what power the activities they pursue DURING college can have over the rest of their lives.

I often think back to my undergraduate years. If you’re headed to college, you should know that the most important things often have nothing to do with the tuition your parents, or maybe just you, pay for.

I remember munching on an ice cream sandwich from the vending machine in the student newspaper office at 2 a.m. while planning my next story. At 10 a.m., I was dozing on a shabby couch in the same building, surrounded by trash that would have appalled my mother. At 5 p.m. I hammered out a story for the newspaper on a noisy, decrepit typewriter. (Perhaps you’ve seen one in a museum.) At 9 p.m., I slipped into the editor’s office and closed the door so I could kiss him.

Adults you know have similar memories, probably more than you have time for. Listen to them anyway. Experiences outside of class can have a much bigger impact on your life than your grades or your textbooks or anything your teacher said in Philosophy 1B.

Among the many guides published on the college selection process, I have struggled to find any that help applicants locate schools with extracurricular activities in line with their dreams.

“I don’t know of a resource on after-school programs in public schools specifically, or a resource for private colleges,” said Connie Livingston, former director of admissions at Brown, who is now a senior counselor in the Admissions Counseling Service. empowerment colleges. She said Empowerment counselors can help spot such opportunities. But your own efforts can bear more fruit.

Let’s Make College Admission Fair, While Celebrating Non-Selective College Products Like My Brilliant New Boss

Ask friends and family who know people who work in fields that interest you. For example, universities such as Northwestern, Missouri, and Columbia have excellent reputations for teaching journalism. But once I started at The Post, I discovered that some of our greatest talent came from schools I had never heard of, like the State University of New York at Buffalo. Where you go to college is less important than how strongly your favorite extracurricular activity inspired you to work.

What I see missing in discussions about college is the critical mass of young people on campus toying with crazy ideas. The Hewlett-Packard Company, for example, was born out of imaginative discussions between two undergraduate students after an electrical engineering course. In this century, the stories of sophomores who came up with good ideas during lunchroom discussions are a part of business tradition.

Campus connections have launched innovations and created jobs everywhere – in music, film, television, medicine, rocketry, energy, publishing, economics, real estate and many parts of the world. ‘internet I don’t understand. Because of the web, such student effervescence continued even when colleges were shut down by the pandemic.

On the websites of all major state universities, you will find clubs and associations that bring together students and professors with fresh ideas. Fraternities and sororities, I am told, can also lead to useful contacts and management experience. After-school assignments can be instructive. Even athletic departments are turning talented arrivals into marketing experts, as new name, image and likeness (NIL) rules give them a chance to make money long before they turn pro.

Facebook’s mega-success began when an undergraduate student created an online guide for the campus community, one of many Internet ideas that emerged on his campus. If there is a college that interests you, contact its student associations and ask what is going on. Even an unsolicited email to a well-known person whose work you admire can provide good college advice, as these people like to be listened to by young people.

So you’re disappointed because your favorite college said no. Read it.

College guides resent the overwhelming power of young people living and studying together for the first time, arranging their days without having to consult their parents. In such circumstances, creative and romantic sparks fly.

The editor I sued in college finally agreed to marry me on graduation day. We haven’t built billion dollar companies, but we’ve had great lives. It’s partly because of how we used the glorious free time we discovered in our late teens. It’s not often mentioned in college catalogs, but it should be.

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