According to one recent theory, there's a correlation between the amount of cultural exposure that children receive and their chances of getting into college. While cultural experience is not typically an explicit part of college admission requirements, in can make an impact in the college admission process.
College admission requirements helped by culture
Remember, it is just a theory, but the idea is this: if you like music, art, and culture, so will your kids. And if they like them, they'll be more likely to join the school choir, play in the band, learn to dance, get involved in student government, and work on the school newspaper or yearbook staff.
According to the American Sociological Association, involvement in such activities, as well as in varsity team sports, increases your children's "cultural capital" and provides effective padding on a high school resume. And when it comes to the college admissions process at some of the more exclusive colleges and universities, these activities seem to up the ante in your children's favor when it comes time to mail out acceptance packages.
Which activities make a difference in college admissions requirements?
It's hard to pinpoint why some activities seem to be more influential than others in the competition to get into an exclusive school. It could be that cultural sophistication implies a certain socioeconomic status, which may be more important to some schools than others. Participation in seemingly similar activities, such as individual sports, school plays, and honor societies sometimes doesn't have any apparent bearing on the college admissions process at an exclusive school.
Don't neglect grades and test scores in college admission process
It's not really much of a surprise that extracurricular activities matter on a college application, but ultimately it's the old standbys that matter the most in gaining acceptance to college — grades and test scores.
Still, it does seem that a certain amount of cultural exposure impresses admission officers, so it can't hurt to take that into consideration when dealing with college admissions requirements.
How parents can help
You may also be able to provide some college admissions assistance by looking at what activities your child participates in, rather than how many — a useful distinction if your child is spending every spare minute of time squeezing in as many activities as possible to help fill in the blanks on his or her college application. Don't force your child to give up the activities he or she really loves, but do encourage your child to include a little cultural variety in order to potentially catch the eyes of the admissions committee members.