top of page

#1 Most Overlooked Idea For College App Excurriculars

Updated: May 26, 2021

I had a student come up to me after a lecture, asking how to get experience in marketing before applying to a marketing program. I told him that real-world experience is the best.

Anyone can take a class, but when a college sees you're already doing the activity you plan to study at university, they know your passion is real, genuine, and authentic. That's because, if you're taking a class, it could have been required by your high school or your parents could have pushed you into it, but if you go out and get an internship, you're clearly a self-motivated student.

But, this student complained that it's nearly impossible to get an internship, especially in China. I know competition is fierce, so sometimes you have to think outside the box. And when you grow up in a culture that funnels you into college, you often don't have the resources to select your activities differently than your peers. You might even face backlash from your teachers or parents because they think the best experience you can have is the Yale Summer program. But they're wrong if marketing is your passion.

Just before my lecture, I had walked around the block and happened to see the "grand opening" of a small cafe. It's Geo Dessert and Bakery in Shenzhen, China, near the Marco Polo Hotel. It was adorable, and the desserts looked amazing. I'm sure they could have used a young man taking weekly photos and posting for their social media accounts.

... He'd learn how to run a campaign, and they'd get free help. He'd be able to track how much business he brought the cafe, and could leverage that into a real job with them, or with another company. And that would look great on his application.

I hope he ended up taking my advice, but when he left, he just kept repeating that it's so hard to get an internship.

The thing is -- top schools are looking for students who can overcome adversity like that in a creative way, not students who follow the herd. Here's the proof from the Harvard Admissions leak (below).

In this screenshot, you can see Harvard describing a student who almost got in, and how they judged his extracurriculars. They are looking for leaders, people who take initiative and stand out... Not "participants."

So, should you be worried if you're in a few clubs and play a sport? Yes! You actually might be doing too much and losing focus. Sometimes doubling down on the couple things you excel at gives you a better shot, as you can clearly see in that excerpt from Harvard.


To Do:

If you need some thoughts on how to up your game, COMMENT BELOW about your situation, and I'll email you asap with my take on your situation.


bottom of page