DR. WALLACE: I'm in the 10th grade, and I get super grades in my classes. I'm not quite sure what I want to do when it comes to selecting a good college or university.
Last week, I met with my school counselor, and she said I should get involved in extracurricular activities because "elite" colleges and universities prefer students to have been involved with after school events. I wouldn't mind having a bunch of afterschool activities added to my transcript, but I'm not good at sports (I hate them), the only musical instrument I play is a piano and piano players are not part of our school's marching band!
Shouldn't colleges and universities be more interested in a student who possesses a 4.0 grade-point average than one with a 3.5 grade-point average who hits a ball with a bat? I was born in Korea, and the system there places all emphasis on academics, not playing silly games. — Min Jee, Azusa, California
MIN JEE: Colleges and universities enjoy having brilliant students come to their campuses, and they all place outstanding academic achievement as the prime requirement for acceptance. I'm sure you will have a little difficulty entering the school of your choice if you continue your superb academic record. Still, some schools do look at a student extracurricular participation as well as her grades, looking for individuals who are well-rounded.
There are many more extracurricular activities than just marching band and athletics. Why not check out a club or group that sounds like it would be fun (as well as look good on your transcript) — the school newspaper or yearbook staff, for instance? Or you could run for a class or student body office, try out for the school play or start a piano appreciation club. You could also tutor less-gifted students, assist the librarian, volunteer to read stories to elementary students or become a part of the all-school choir.
These are but a few extracurricular activities many high schools offer their students. There are many, many more to choose from. It's up to you to take advantage of them. Once you find a group you enjoy it, you'll see the value of expanding your horizons with extracurricular activities. Most of the academically elite colleges and universities including Stanford, Harvard, Duke and Princeton University enjoy having athletic students who hit a baseball with a bat, toss a ball at a basket and kick a ball through a goalpost, but to be able to play these games, the student must maintain good grades.
NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT
DR. WALLACE: I'm 12 and want to get my ears pierced, but my dad won't let me because he thinks I'm too young to make that decision. I'm very mature for my age. I am an honor roll student, and I dance 13 hours a week at a dance studio because I compete on a dance team. Also, when I was 4, I had leukemia. It took me two and a half years, but I finally overcame it. My dad said he would consider your opinion. — Eager to Pierce, via email
EAGER: I would agree that you are a mature young lady who deserves to start having some grown-up privileges. As long as your father is not philosophically opposed to your piercings and will allow you to do it eventually, I'd say there's no time like the present.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.