Sticking Out

Sydney Raman

Scores, tests, extracurriculars, money. All of these things have defined a high schooler and what his or her future should be: College-bound. The main reason for all of this has created a stigma around what it really means and how one gets into it.

Senior Luke Stanford is striving to become a student who will get into an Ivy League school.  He believes that in recent years, though, having a “story” is what really gets you into any college, not just Ivy League schools. 

“Nowadays academics is not enough. Largely due to the fact that there are thousands of completely qualified high school students who could definitely succeed at these schools. In response to this, colleges have to be more selective and look at who you are beyond an ACT score and GPA,” Stanford said. 

Nowadays academics is not enough. Colleges have to be more selective and look at who you are beyond an ACT score and GPA.”

— Senior Luke Stanford

Stanford also believes that money does play a big role in choosing who will get in or not. 


“When it comes to the ACT, the fact is that Central is significantly disadvantaged compared to the Kansas City and Wichita students we compete with. This is for many reasons, the main one being socioeconomic status and test scores have a strong correlation. Central does have students who earn top scores, but the majority of these kids are typically wealthier. I would not call it a fair system, but it’s the best thing we have as of right now,” Stanford said. 

Junior Spencer Angell has always been determined to get into an Ivy League school, preferably Penn State University.  Angell believes that the “story” one must have to get in is both a good and bad thing. 

“It’s good for what they’re trying to produce. They’re not just trying to produce the smartest people. They want leaders, motivators, people who are going to make a difference in whatever they do. It’s definitely good for them but as for the applicant, it could be good or bad. Obviously, it’s bad for those people who are super good at academics but maybe not so much with the leadership and extracurriculars,” Angell said. 

This “it” factor that colleges or Ivy Leagues are looking for has now become the bait for colleges. Times are changing and talent keeps growing. 

“You need to prove that you’re somebody who’s going to go out and achieve things,” Angell said. 

Gifted teacher Ramona Musgrove believes that most high schoolers have the story to get into any college but their outlook on college has an effect. 

 “When people think of college, they think of a university or a four-year degree program that ends in a bachelor’s and so on. But college can also be vo-tech or a junior college when you pick up a two-year degree. College has a whole lot of different varieties and meanings depending on what you want to do. People forget about the wealth of educational opportunities that exist between a high school and a bachelor’s degree,” Musgrove said. 

Musgrove believes that each student has a story, but it is a matter of embracing it.

“It’s hard to do. You have to look at yourself and think ‘How am I different from everybody else?’ High school kids so much want to be the same still. Sometimes it’s not a big deal, it can be a tiny bit of you and that is really hard to find,” Musgrove said. 

Stanford also agrees that presenting your story is also an issue in high school students. 

“When it comes to a good story, everyone has one. Everyone is unique and has something to offer that others do not–it’s more an issue of presenting one’s story in an authentic way that highlights one’s uniqueness,” Stanford said. 

Everyone in highschool has a story that could potentially better there chance in getting into a college, but it’s all a matter of fully embracing it. Advocacy for it is something Musgrove believes is just as equally important. 

“A lot of it comes down to age. When you’re on the other side of that, you can look back and see that this is such a wonderful stepping stone. Every teacher can have a conversation with a student about having this gift. This gift might seem so small to the student but it really does set you apart. Just helping the individual student see that this is where you’re unique and this is what you can build your story around, will really benefit everyone,” Musgrove said. 

Angell believes that he is growing towards having that “story” that colleges or Ivy Leagues are looking for. 

“That’s the biggest thing for me because I have everything else in place, what I’m trying to prove with my application is my leadership ability and especially my ability to plan things out for the future which is sort of seen in my extracurriculars and that is what I’ll use as an anchor to back up that claim. I think I have a story, it might not be the best, but I do think I have what it takes to go to an Ivy League school,” Angell said. 

The environment surrounding Ivy League schools is something Stanford also believes is a reason why he wants to attend such prestigious schools. When Stanford went to visit Stanford University, he immediately felt in touch with the school. 

“There was such an atmosphere of possibility and success; I felt like with their help I could truly do anything. I wouldn’t call it a passion–it’s more of an aspiration than anything else,” Stanford said. 

Stanford explains the level of passion that Stanford University had. 

“It was inspiring. Everyone I met had their own story, their own passion that drove their success at such a young age. For example, the first student I met there was an engineering major. In high school she attended the United States Naval Academy’s summer program, and she got so interested in defense systems that she designed and patented her own, eventually selling it to the U.S. government. Not everyone there had gone that far, of course. However, when you’re there, surrounded by that level of success, you see where you want to go and what you can do to get there,” Stanford said. 

Stanford has confidence that college is how you make it. 

“I’d like to add that you can get a great education no matter where you go to school; college will be whatever you make it to be,” Stanford said.