When applying to college, what should matter?
Griggs is a senior at Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics high school. When she’s not babysitting, she’s working 20 hours a week at Modell’s Sporting Goods in Brooklyn. She’s also taking Advanced Placement classes and applying to 14 colleges. On weekdays, she’s up by 5 a.m. to get from her Bronx apartment to her first class at 7:30. On the two weekdays she works at the sports store, she doesn’t get home until 10:30 or 11 at night — when she settles in for another hour or two of homework. She gets to bed after midnight and starts over about five hours later.
Half her paycheck goes toward college savings. Her mother works in customer service at a taxi company and would help with college costs, but Griggs doesn’t want to put that obligation on her. “I want to provide for myself. Even though my family helps me, I don’t want to be a burden,” she said. She’ll be the first in her immediate family to go to college.
Griggs’s work history and family commitments might seem like key selling points for colleges that say they value grit, time management skills and maturity. But many college applications don’t give much space to that kind of experience. Admissions officers at top schools tend to value community service — the sort of activities that students from low-income families may not have, given their devotion to helping their families and finding ways to save for ...
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