A recent thread, about getting into MIT and/or CalTech got me thinking. And while I did post https://www.physicsforums.com/showpost.php?p=3387540&postcount=9", I don't want to hijack that thread. Over the past year or two, I've been actively reading about college and university courses, applications and other things. I just found it a sensible thing to do. In any event, I've noticed a few trends. In the UK, there's this obsession about getting those A*s and for college applications, it's the extracurricular activities more than anything else, although the GPA and AP grades are another concern for students. Why is their such an obsession about ECs? A student engaging in one activity or another might say something about what he/she enjoys doing and that might in turn, give an idea of that student's personality. And yes, when looked at under this light, listing ECs in an application form can make sense. However, whenever I see people discussing about what they've been doing and "how much they've been preparing", I'm left baffled. It's just college - why is there this relentless need to prove oneself's worth through things one might not even be interested in? I especially see this in people who are applying to the more "popular" (I don't like the word "top" because I don't think putting numbers next to the name of an institution means anything) colleges and the Ivy Leagues. Who cares whether you list fifty different activities? I may very well be wrong but I think that a student who is genuinely interested in the one or two things he does and writes about it effectively in his essay, has more of a chance than somebody who's listed fifty things that only sound impressive and don't mean a thing beyond that. Also, http://www.mitadmissions.org/topics/before/helping_your_parents_through_this_process/marilee_jones_in_the_news_1.shtml" [Broken] article is a very interesting read. Anyone applying to college or with any interest in the application process might want to check it out.