Following Interests vs Following Others
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Following Interests vs Following Others

Hey everyone! Happy New Year and welcome back to GoBlog. We hope you had a relaxing holiday season and are ready for a great 2021. Our goal this year will be to bring more content relating to dealing with stress that high school students are experiencing and how to combat that. 

Our first entry into this topic will be on Following Interests vs Following Others. So many times the external influences of others can creep into our brain and make us second guess ourselves or change what we are thinking altogether. In certain situations, this is actually preferable (think touching a hot stove). Therefore, it’s human nature that what people say impacts how we think. However, like most evolutionary properties of humans, there are downsides.

When it comes to career choices, this phenomenon happens all the time. Your parents are doctors, so they want you to be a doctor. Your cousin is a successful programmer, so now your dad says you should be one, too. Let’s face it: living up to someone else is not only hard, it’s often ingenuine. Most importantly, it usually hurts your chances of getting accepted to the best colleges.

If you don’t believe the last sentence, take a look at some of the reasons why following others can hurt YOUR chances of getting accepted into colleges. 

Poor Application Essays

Why are you interested in your major? or Why are you interested in this cluster at COSMOS? are very common application essays, whether you’re applying to college or a competitive summer program like COSMOS. So, whenever students answer with “My parents taught me to…”, that’s a red flag which gets interpreted as “My parents told me to.” The top universities and summer programs are looking for independent thinkers, and genuine learners. There’s a HUGE stigma out in admissions against the helicopter mom who forced their kids to do something, be it medicine or engineering. Even if you did gain inspiration from your parents or friends or family members, you MUST have an explanation that transcends that influence. It needs to speak more to your own curiosities and aspirations rather than those of others.

Colleges View You Negatively

Colleges, especially the top colleges, like Harvard and the Ivies, or even UC Berkeley and UCLA, look for students who are genuine in their intellectual pursuits. When we follow others, we start doing general things like starting a club because it makes you look good or participating in a sport or instrument because it shows well-roundedness. Myths like these not only make you just like everyone else, but they read terribly to colleges. It becomes clear that the interest that led to those activities wasn’t genuine. That’s absolutely evident. Not only in college application essays, but also in one’s descriptions of those activities elsewhere. Whether that’s in the activities section or in alumni interviews.

Stress and Unhappiness 

When we follow someone else’s dreams and aspirations, we don’t get a chance to live our own. As a result of this, we see students [and their parents] make bad decisions with their time, all the time. Consider the following examples:

  1. Taking way too many AP courses.
  2. Taking weighted coursework not relevant to your interests, and not relevant to your major.
  3. Applying to 15 summer programs, only to find yourself enrolled in a ridiculously hard class that’s not interesting.
  4. Constantly searching for internships when college admissions don’t even care.
  5. Volunteering 200+ hours because you heard that it’s one way to stand out for college.
  6. Spending 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, for the entire summer on a “boot-camp” test prep course that only gets you to 1400, not the 1500 you were hoping for.


While Covid-19 has presented an epidemic of wild proportions, chronic stress for high schoolers and their parents is an epidemic all the same. It causes tremendous stress, it requires our kids to stay at home over-studying (when they should be out exploring the world and their interests), and it costs a lot of money to fix (from the mindless SAT prep to the countless therapy sessions our kids seek as a result of the inner pains that come with the competitive pressure).

By providing good information and a smart way of living and learning, ReadyEdgeGo hopes to zap this stress. We believe that by bringing more attention to the issue, we can eventually cure it. If you feel like you may be a victim of following others, please reach out to us so we can help you find your own interests. 

We hope that this provides some valuable insight into how to release some of the stress you may have while making your college application profile even stronger.

We specialize in youth mentorship and college counseling. From 8th grade to 12th, we have you covered for any stage in your high school career. Schedule a free consultation with us here.

We are always posting more helpful tips and tricks to help reduce the stress of college application season. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn

See you soon!

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