College Peas is all about getting into selective colleges against the odds. A central theme of the strategy I propose is an NTA or Non-Teenager Activity.

I hate to say it, but to many adults teenagers tend to look like a homogeneous group of people with similar styles and interests. Sports, music, art, dance and things like that are critically important to teenagers and incredibly important to an individual’s development, but they don’t show true differentiation between people. An NTA, on the other hand, will allow an adult (in this case an admissions counselor) to see one teenager as distinctly different than another teenager.

Admissions counselors are dying to find students who differentiate themselves from other students. An NTA does just that. The winner of the April 30th College Peas Standout Student Scholarship is Jasmine Roberts who has a killer NTA- she conducted a study of the safety of ice in fast food restaurants. This study gained her national attention and landed her on Oprah.

To understand why this person was chosen take the following quiz:

  • It is typical for a teenager to love and play music (Y/N)
  • It is typical for a teenager to play sports (Y/N)
  • It is typical for a teenager to volunteer for good causes (Y/N)
  • It is typical for a teenager to have artistic talent (Y/N)
  • It is typical for a teenager to conduct scientific research that as national implications (Y/N)

Clearly the last one is an “N” and the activity is an NTA. That’s why Jasmine won the scholarship. It wasn’t because she is a hard-working, talented, passionate, responsible and smart. I’m sure she is all of these things. However, in the context of applying to college none of her attributes will differentiate her as much as her NTA.

It is easy to confuse talents, hard work and passion as NTAs. The truth is there are lots of teenagers that do similar things that exhibit these qualities. Only and NTA will set you apart and really make you a standout student.

So, please join me in congratulating Jasmine Roberts, the winner of the Spring 2011 College Peas Standout Student Scholarship!