April is stress awareness month. During the pandemic we have all had the challenge of maintaining our mental health, but it's been especially difficult for high school students.
Selective colleges are looking for students that demonstrate they value their mental health. Savvy applicants practice self-care in a number of ways, including getting regular exercise and eating healthy, but two others stand out:
The first is sleep. It's so good for your creativity, memory and immune system. It's what allows you to be your best self and colleges respect this—a lot. Imagine a student who wrote on their activity sheet that they slept 55-65 hours a week. What would a college admissions officer think?
Given that they are reading fast (sometimes an application gets just 8 minutes), it would probably make them slow down and read more carefully. And since few students list this as an activity it would stand out. They would say to themselves, "this is interesting!"
Most admissions officers at selective colleges are painfully aware that there is an epidemic of sleep deprivation among teenagers. This is part of the reason why they appreciate and respect students who focus on a few rather than many activities. The Common App has 10 spaces, but you don't need to use them all!
After they did a double take, they would be interested in your motivation for highlighting your sleep. "Is this a ploy?" If your explanation was that you believed sleep was a priority for good reasons, like you had been curious about the science of the health benefits and decided to make it an experiment, that would certainly be positive.
If your belief in the importance of health was complimented in other activities and places on the application (maybe you had discussed your interest with a science teacher and it was mentioned in a Letter of Rec, or maybe it came up in an application essay or a conversation in a college interview) it would be even more compelling.
A second key to self-care is mindfulness. A mindfulness practice can take many different forms, but learning to observe, name, control, and use your emotions intentionally is truly a superpower!
What is Mindfulness
For me, it's a combination of yoga and meditation that helps. If you're interested, there are many yoga classes available online including this free series of beginners classes. For meditation, I have long been a daily user of the app, Headspace. I encourage everyone to check out their explanation of the neuroscience on Netflix.
While it shouldn't be the main motivation, this type of activity could definitely be a strong part of your college application.
Thanks for reading!
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