Is Being a Well-rounded Student Worth It?

Nejra Hojic
Edited by Zoe Jones
Published on
October 16, 2023

The road to college admissions has traditionally been paved with the idea that well-rounded students are the most desirable candidates. High school students have often been encouraged to participate in a multitude of extracurricular activities, to volunteer, and to maintain strong academic records. However, a closer examination of college admissions reveals a shift in focus. In reality, colleges aren’t primarily interested in well-rounded students; they are seeking a well-rounded campus. We will explore the reasons behind this shift and argue that high school students should prioritize finding something they genuinely enjoy and excel at, rather than participating in numerous diverse activities. We will also delve into how students can discover their passions and make them notable activities.


Traditionally, well-rounded students were considered valuable because they were seen as versatile and adaptable. However, over time college admissions have evolved. Being well-rounded is no longer as desirable as it once was. The hyper-competitive nature of the college application process has led institutions to seek candidates who not only excel academically, but also bring unique perspectives, talents, and experiences to campus. This shift emphasizes the importance of depth rather than breadth.

Colleges aim to create diverse and dynamic communities on their campuses, seeking students who can contribute distinct strengths and interests to their student body. To achieve this, they look for individuals deeply engaged in specific areas, whether academics, arts, sports, or other passions. These individuals are top in whatever their activity of choice is. By accepting these people, it allows for the campus to be more diverse in backgrounds, activities, and knowledge. A well-rounded campus benefits from the collective expertise and enthusiasm of its student body.

High school students who focus on a particular area of interest gain several advantages. First, they have the opportunity to develop expertise and mastery in their chosen field, which can set them apart from peers who have only dabbled in various activities. Second, this specialization allows students to build a compelling narrative in their college applications, showcasing their commitment and growth over time. Finally, excelling in a single area often leads to meaningful achievements and recognition, further boosting one’s chances of admission.

Discovering what you are genuinely passionate about is a crucial step in the journey toward depth and distinction. To do this, high school students should engage in self-reflection, exploring their interests, values, and goals. They can also seek advice from mentors, teachers, and counselors who can help them identify potential areas of focus. Moreover, it’s essential to experiment with various activities and hobbies to determine what resonates most deeply. Being good at one activity does not mean avoiding others. In fact, we encourage you to try new things as early as possible, and slowly narrow it down. 

Once students have identified their passion, they should take proactive steps to make it a notable activity. For instance, if a student discovers a talent for debate, they can take it a step up and start an after-school debate program at local elementary or middle schools. This initiative not only demonstrates leadership but also a commitment to sharing their passion with others and making a positive impact on their community. Participating in numerous extracurricular activities can lead to burnout and diminish the quality of a student’s involvement. Colleges increasingly value the depth of commitment over the sheer number of activities listed on an application. High school students should consider that it’s more impressive to have a significant impact in a single area than to be a passive participant in many.

In conclusion, the landscape of college admissions has shifted from valuing well-rounded students to seeking a well-rounded campus. To adapt to this changing paradigm, high school students should prioritize finding their true passions and dedicating themselves to those interests. Instead of spreading themselves thin across various activities, they should invest time and effort into becoming experts in their chosen fields. This approach not only aligns with the evolving expectations of colleges but also fosters personal growth, fulfillment, and a deeper sense of purpose in high school students. Ultimately, the path to college success lies in depth, not breadth, and making their passions notable activities can set them on the path to both personal and academic success.

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