The Squash Guy was a strong science student (low 80s in PCM-CS) at a school with major US student outflow. He was part of his school’s highly selective Computer Science club and had a very strong ACT score (34). The Squash Guy had another important feather in his cap: he was a top-15 ranked Indian squash player with major tournament experience and a glowing recommendation from his coach (who had worked with other US-bound student-athletes from India).
He is a memorable example of pragmatic profile-building through joyful selfishness. He came to us when he was in the middle of Grade 11, wondering if he should leave squash and prioritize his academics. However, the Squash Guy hadn’t participated in any major academic projects, hadn’t attended any summer schools, hadn’t researched with any professors – in short, he didn’t really have any academic profile to build on. We advised the Squash Guy to remember Rule #3: never start from scratch.
We came up with a plan for him to aggressively pursue squash (at the time his ranking was hovering in the mid-20s), and it worked: he played tournaments, improved his ranking, and eventually caught the eye of two serious college programs. The Squash Guy is the perfect example of the practical benefits of simply doing what you love, and doing it as often and as well as you can. This is the best kind of college admissions: at virtually no other time in life will you be pragmatically rewarded for pursuing your passion single-mindedly. The Squash Guy took a risk in electing to follow his love of squash, and he ended up being recruited by Columbia. However, even at other non-sporting colleges his squash still served as an ‘amplifier’ for his school grades (evidenced by his admission to Carnegie Mellon’s highly selective School of Computer Science).
The moral of the story?