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Which extracurriculars "suck," which ones "sell?"

Uncategorized Feb 21, 2023

Summer Bootcamp

When I interview students for my private 1:1 college advisory program, I ask them which two-three extracurricular activities take up most of their time.

Frequently, the mom interjects (Red Flag Alert!) and launches into a recitation of 5-7 items, which typically include, at the top of the list, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and sometimes another society.

Do you know how hard it is for a guy like me not to smirk at that?  Probably not, so...

Here's a clue:  when my daughter Lizzie was inducted into the National Honor Society a few years back, I not-so-silently took a quick headcount of the auditorium.

Then I turned to her, and said "Congratulations for making it into the top 70% of your high school!"  

Now THAT's good parenting.

But she got the point and agreed:  honor societies are participation trophies, designed to make everyone feel "included", and I guess, motivated.  Although I don't understand how motivated or prideful anyone can really be with a meaningless award.

Then again, I'm hung up on the popularity of those NSHSS bumper stickers.  Have you seen them?

They're for the "National Society of High School Scholars", which accepts students only after a rigorous selection process.  Applicants must:

* Have a credit card or access to mom's credit card (90 bucks gets you lifetime access!  Lifetime, even after you get into college!)

*Have the ability to fog a mirror

* Possess a substantial sense of insecurity about what to put on your college application Activities section, or, in the alternative, a major, general fear of missing out

I'm actually not kidding.  Check out the NSHSS website yourself if you want to laugh.  There's no mention of academic qualifications, but was able to discover  this, about their "Ambassador" designation:

Eligibility: To qualify for membership in the Ambassador Program, existing NSHSS members must be in their sophomore, junior or senior year of high school .

Aha! They don't take everybody -- no freshman allowed!

Clearly they have to prove themselves by successfully advancing to 10th grade before they can even DREAM of applying for an ambassadorship.

However, my favorite aspect of the NSHSS sales pitch are the constant references to being co-founded by a member of the Nobel family. Yes, THAT Nobel family.

However, not specifically Alfred Nobel of the Nobel Prize. NSHSS was actually "co-founded" by Alfred's grand nephew, Claus.

If you're keeping score at home, that means the Swedish philanthropist had a brother. The brother had a son. Then that son had another son, Claus! He's the guy!

Claus is no Great Uncle Alfred, but he has had quite the distinguished career himself. Here's a snipped from the website. Claus:

received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from Virginia State University and an honorary Doctor of Law Letters degree from Mount Mary College in Milwaukee, WI. He was selected for the 2012 Service Legacy Award from Usher's New Look Foundation, and in 2014 he received the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Selective Corporate Internship Program (SCIP).

Nothing against these institutions, but a. have you heard of them? Maybe Virginia State University (acceptance rate: 96.1%. Not kidding.).

But you have to agree, The Selective Corporate Internship Program has a cool acronym, SCIP. Personally, I love it, because it appears to describe Claus's attendance record in school, because no colleges other than the ones he received honorary degrees -- and presumably, donated to -- from are listed in his bio.

I doubt this note will have any impact on kids or parents signing up for or bragging about NSHSS, or any other honor societies.  But I thought this was worth pointing out, because...

Admissions Officers Don't Care About Honor Societies

So if all you got for the Honors or the Activities section of your Common App are references to pay to play societies and service trips to Costa Rica, my advice is to consider tweaking your extracurriculars a bit. I'll suggest a few tomorrow.

In the meantime,  if you have a Class of 2024 11th grader and you are stressed out and dreading the process of writing the essays, completing the applications, finalizing a college list etc. etc. etc., you should check out our 8th annual Summer Bootcamp

We're offering a $300 Early Action Scholarship (discount) if you sign up by deadline:  Use coupon code BOOT300 or BOOT300-EZ for the payment plan option. 

(Wait for the shopping cart to change prices before checking out.)

This is a WORKING program to get sh** DO-N-E and out the door.   Not a passive, sit your tush kind of deal.

**NOTE:  the Bootcamp is free (and optional) for our private 1:1 clients.  

Here's where to get all the details:


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