Photographed by Ruby Yeh.
Remember all those nights you spent cramming for that organic chemistry/AP European history/who-knows-what exam in high school? Yeah, it was probably all for naught. And, don’t even think about the hours memorizing SAT flashcards when you could’ve been reef-diving off the coast of Fiji or making a mocumentary series on the life of a teenaged retail worker, because that was just a hugely wasted opportunity.
As is turns out, elbowing your way into a prestigious school — and, if I could wager a guess, most workplaces — isn't so much about your prime location on the class rank, a fancy list of extracurriculars, or how quickly you can fax a memo, as is it about your personality, Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust told The Atlantic. Her best advice? Fortunately for 15-year-olds everywhere, it's not to be nose-deep in textbooks, but rather to be interesting. Think less "I learned seven languages while sitting in an AP classroom last summer," and more "I learned seven languages while volunteering at a refugee services center."
“We could fill our class twice over with valedictorians,” Faust said. With so many elite resumes hitting the admissions desk, officers often rely on intriguing personal essays, strong recommendations, and other less cut-and-dried criteria you probably saw as an afterthought. That means your type-A 'tude probably matters slightly less than your ability to be, well, well-liked. Guess we never really leave high school.