One of my Five Foundations of Applying with Sanity is to “be a person, not a résumé.” By that I mean to remember to think of yourself as an authentic person with complexity and contradictions, not just a list of achievements and statistics. That’s really important as a metaphor. But often you need a literal résumé. Scholarship applications may ask for a résumé. College applications sometimes (but not too often) ask for a résumé. Teachers and counselors may want a résumé to help them compose a recommendation letter. Potential employers very often ask for a résumé—that’s what résumés were created for. On top of that, it can be a useful exercise to go through and organize your thoughts about yourself and what you want to say about yourself. So with all that in mind, here are some things to consider when putting together, or revising, your résumé.
If you’re finishing up your college application essay and it has to do with a mission trip you were part of, I’m going to ask you not to submit it. At least not yet.
Some of the most common complaints against the Mission Trip essay is that it is cliché and therefore admissions officers are really tired of reading it because all the mission trip essays sound the same. To be clear: both these things are true. But I really don’t like that as a reason to avoid the Mission Trip essay. It reinforces the idea that your job is to write something the admissions officers will like, so they’ll like you and admit you—if you know they don’t like that essay topic, then you shouldn’t write about.
But your job isn’t to be a product that you’re “selling” to the colleges, and you shouldn’t change what you write about based on the idea that your meaningful experience isn’t valuable because colleges are tired of hearing about it.
joined a Facebook group of college counselors and consultants recently, and this week there was an interesting conversation. Basically, a counselor had realized that some of the teachers at their school were writing student recommendation letters that were badly written, form letters, or both. Lots of others commented that the counselor should do something immediately, perhaps instigate refresher training for teachers on the campus, or maybe even district-wide. And it hit me that I was a high school teacher for 17 years who wrote dozens of rec letters, and I’d never had any sort of training or guidance. Unlike at some other districts, we just had to figure it out. Or not.
While it’s common knowledge that most college applications involve writing an essay or two, it’s not as well known that many—but not all—also require you to answer some shorter questions. These are often referred to as “supplemental questions” or “supplemental essays,” because even schools that participate in the Common Application may ask you to supplement the common essay with some short questions specific to their admissions program. These questions usually ask for very short and concise answers, ranging from 50 to around 200 words. They’re not essays, but they’re more than just filling in a blank with objective information.
I've written about how and why to craft a college mission statement, but I want to follow up with more detail and give a sense of how you might use the mission statement to help make your college search more efficient and effective.
This week I had a great coaching session with a client working on her mission statement, so let me walk you through what we did.