Emotional Intelligence is Not Just for College Admissions

Demonstrating strong emotional intelligence and character continue to be vital to the college application process. In working with clients, we have a lot of discussions about classes, rigor, test scores, and extracurricular activities.  Is this schedule rigorous enough for X school?  Are my test scores high enough?  What activities should I be doing?  And these conversations are important, but what we heard loud and clear from admissions professionals, professors, and psychologists is that this year, more than ever before, we need to be asking different questions.  

  • How have I demonstrated grit and resilience?
  • How do I express my curiosity or creativity?  
  • Do I understand my emotions? What triggers them? How do I label and manage  them? 
  • How have I overcome adversity or delayed gratification for something I really wanted?  
  • How have I pushed myself through a challenging situation and grown from it?  
  • How have I shown empathy and understanding of someone very different from myself? 
  • How have I taken risks and been comfortable being a minority of one?

These are not easy questions to answer for some people, but these past several months of sheltering at home have given you the gift of time and hopefully the ability to reflect on what makes you uniquely you. The way you answer these questions through your essays will help admissions counselors parse out how well you will fit into their community.  Will you be a leader on campus?  Will you be a good roommate?  Will you engage in the campus community and beyond?  Will you participate in research that helps advance a field in science, economics, psychology, etc?  Do you have a strong sense of self and the ability to help connect different cultural communities on campus?  

As you think about how you spend your time and how you write about it, keep these thoughts in mind. As Marc Brackett, Ph.D., the Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, quipped: “You may not need emotional intelligence to get into college, but you’ll certainly need it to get out of college.” And those students who can demonstrate the seeds of understanding and reflection are exactly the types of students colleges want to see on campus. 

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