Three cacti of different shapes and sizes in small clay pots on white backdrop

Embrace Your Pointy Self: Why Being a Typical Well-Rounded Student Is Overrated

Some people say the only way to stand out on college applications is to be a well-rounded student. But you can also stand out by being "pointy." Here's how!

There are two kinds of students in the college admission world: well-rounded and pointy. To be “well-rounded” is to be like a jack of all trades but master of none. Well-rounded students participate in a variety of activities and clubs, sometimes without having a specific thread that connects them all. To be “pointy” is to be truly invested in your passion, whether it’s a sport, activity, or idea. Pointy students go deep into their “spike,” arrange all their other extracurriculars around this, and are able to articulate their narrative around it in their college application. I advise you to strive for pointedness as opposed to well-roundedness, because pointy students have a direction. They showcase their passion through actions, not words. A bonus of that is having a more focused narrative, ultimately making them more competitive applicants. It’s all about finding and exercising your passion.

How can you be pointy?

The first thing to do is identify your point. Create and look for opportunities. Sharpen your edges. Define your niche. Your point is what you want to focus on. It’s the thread that connects all your activities. Maybe it’s a sport (team or individual) or an art form (visual or performing). For instance, if you’re a swimmer, you probably compete on the team. To make yourself stand out as a pointy student by being a leader, become the team captain, teach children how to swim, or volunteer at your swim academy.

Personally, I’m a ballerina. I’ve been dancing since I was six and have performed in many full-length ballets. In my junior year, I decided to do outreach as well by becoming the Youth Ambassador of a nonprofit dance company. I would lead ballet classes and teach choreography to young girls from underserved families aside from performing myself. Maybe your thing isn’t sports or arts; Maybe it’s getting involved in activism or helping kids grow. Dedicating your time to rallies, protests, and/or good causes could be an example of focusing your passions. Volunteering at different charities that support the emotional and physical growth of children could be another. Your passion tells your story. Your activities or extracurriculars display how you vigorously exercise your passion.

Related: 5 Quick Tips to Help You Choose Your High School Extracurriculars

What about being well-rounded?

There’s nothing wrong with being well-rounded. However, students who are well-rounded run the risk of demonstrating confusion instead of interest on their college applications. If your list of extracurriculars spreads across various activities—like maybe you did water polo for two years and basketball for another two—it’s important to highlight any underlying themes for those activities. Using the water polo/basketball example, you could explain how water polo heightened your coordination and prepared you for the fast-moving game of basketball. The bottom line is you need to find ways to highlight your well-roundedness the right way.

Related: Top Tips on Becoming a Well-Rounded Student

There are 10 slots for extracurriculars on the Common Application. Well-rounded students fill their activities into these spots easily, while pointy students place a few stunning activities on their applications. Choose your spike so you can clearly show your passion in this section and explore what it is you love about that activity, whatever it may be.

For more advice on how to make your college applications stand out, check out our College Admission section.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:

About Crystal Haryanto

Crystal Haryanto

Crystal Haryanto is a freshman at UC Berkeley pursuing a double major in Economics and Cognitive Science. When she's not poring over textbooks on behavioral economics, she enjoys pirouetting in a dance studio and improving her horseback-riding skills.

Aside from her passion for writing, she’s a believer in promoting equal opportunities for kids to thrive. She is a cofounder of the Bay Area affiliate of the I Have A Dream Foundation, a national organization supporting children in under-resourced communities to pursue higher education. In addition to performing around the Bay Area, she has also used her dancing to introduce the art of ballet to underserved kids through community outreach projects and teaching.

 

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Joseph Johnsly

Joseph Johnsly

High School Class of 2021

It's an honor for me to be writing to share a little about my experience with CollegeXpress. I've been using CollegeXpress for about a year now, and the reason why I chose it is because it provides astonishing scholarships for every student around the globe. Besides that, this organization dispenses all the information necessary to help students get to college. CollegeXpress has helped me have an easier experience with applying to colleges and choosing the best fit for myself.

Sarah Armstrong

Sarah Armstrong

High School Class of 2022

I am a deaf student, and I had always dreamed of going to Gallaudet University. CollegeXpress helped me search though other qualified universities. They helped me know for sure that Gallaudet University was the right choice for me!

Heaven Johnson

Heaven Johnson

Back to School Scholarship Winner, High School Class of 2023

I’d like to thank everyone on the CollegeXpress team for their generosity. Not only have I been awarded this scholarship, but CollegeXpress makes it easier to apply and gives amazing tips for schools and scholarships. I am extremely grateful as this will help with my schooling and allow me to be able to enter into the field I’ve been dreaming of all my life. 

Khush

Khush

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress is a multi-maneuver platform that has been helping students in their college applications and scholarship hunt process. For me, CollegeXpress has been a boon. I've been able to find my dream university via CX, and I've also been able to apply to thousands of scholarships through it. All the thanks to CollegeXpress for doing such a great job for free. I express my sincere gratitude to you for doing such a wonderful job. I recommend CollegeXpress without any reservations.

Jenna

Jenna

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me greatly during my college search. I used their college search feature often and it helped in comparing schools I was looking at. Now that I’ve found a college the scholarship search feature is helping me find a way to find my college experience. CollegeXpress has many helpful features and resources for anyones college search, it truly is a wonderful tool for anyone entering college level!

College Matches
X

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Pace University—Westchester

Pleasantville, NY