One new section of our application this year distinguishes between “scholastic” and “non-scholastic” distinctions. The questions read:
List any scholastic distinctions you have won since entering high school and indicate the level of distinction.
List any non-scholastic distinctions you have won since entering high school and indicate the level of distinction.
It seems that the distinction between “scholastic” and “non-scholastic” has been causing some confusion, based on web comments and phone calls. In an attempt to alleviate confusion, I sat down with my colleague McGreggor Crowley ’00, MD, who directs the admissions process here, and together we tried to make the distinction.
One way to think of it would be this: academic and co-curricular awards will usually be “scholastic.” Extracurricular awards will usually be “non-scholastic.”
However, an important message is this: there is no wrong way to fill out this section. Don’t worry about putting an award in the “wrong” section, as there really is no best way to fill this out. Do your best to place things where you think they belong, but don’t stress out over it.
McGreggor and I also brainstormed a list of awards and distinctions, and how we might categorize them. (Again, these are not the “right” answers, but rather some insight into how we might do the sorting). Here goes…
Examples of what might be considered scholastic distinctions:
- Math (e.g. AMC, ARML, Mu Alpha Theta)
- Science (e.g. Science Olympiad, USABO)
- Robotics (e.g. FIRST Chairman’s Award, firefighting robots)
- Computer science (e.g. ACSL, USACO)
- Engineering (e.g. bridge building, rocketry)
- Research & science fairs (e.g. school/regional science fair, ISEF)
- Academic summer programs (e.g. Governor’s school, SSP, RSI, MITES, WTP)
- Academic competition (e.g. Academic Decathlon, Quiz Bowl)
- Exam-based awards (e.g. AP Scholar, National Merit)
- Grade-based awards (e.g. Honor Roll)
- Awards linked to a class or department (e.g. History department award, NCTE, National Latin Exam)
- Honor societies (e.g. National Honor Society)
- Book awards (e.g. Harvard Book Award, Rensselaer Medal)
Examples of what might be considered non-scholastic distinctions:
- Leadership (HOBY, Rotary, student government)
- Music (e.g. competitive orchestras, concerto competitions, All County, Interlochen)
- Art (e.g. placing in a competition, having a gallery show)
- Athletics (e.g. All League, varsity letter, Wendy’s High School Heisman)
- Volunteering (e.g. Prudential Spirit of Community Award)
- Work-related accomplishments (e.g. employee of the month)
- Politcal (e.g. Model UN, debate, Boys/Girls State)
- Dance (e.g. arangetram)
- Scouting (e.g. Gold Award, Order of the Arrow)
- Random stuff (e.g. Prom King/Queen, “Most Likely to Succeed,” “I have read all of Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels”)
Now, if you happened to list debate as scholastic, or FIRST as non-scholastic, don’t worry. As I said above, these are not the “right” answers, rather one attempt at sorting. As long as you’ve done your best to list those distinctions of which you’re most proud and best show your talents, you have done this section correctly.
I hope this is helpful!