Mindset

Some book recommendations

Some book recommendations

Last week I gave a talk at a local P.T.O. meeting, explaining to a room of parents why the phrase "it looks good to colleges" is a red flag, what the "Am I worthy?" mindset is, and why it's a better idea to treat college admissions like a relationship. After the talk, a woman asked if I had any books I could recommend. Of course I do! Here are four, in no particular order.

Thinking about supply and demand

Thinking about supply and demand

If you only read the major news headlines, you might think that there's too much demand for universities and not enough supply. The news is dominated by stories about the really, really low acceptance rates at places like Harvard and Stanford. But the reality is often the opposite: most colleges are trying to get people in, not keep them out.

A little Hamlet with your college application

A little Hamlet with your college application

Bear with me a moment while I talk about literary theory. I promise it's relevant to you.

In his 1921 essay "Hamlet and His Problems," T.S. Eliot uses the phrase "objective correlative." Eliot isn't the first to use the phrase, and certainly not the first to use the concept, but the term really stuck when Eliot used it and it's usually attributed to him. Eliot calls the play Hamlet an "artistic failure." (I don't advise you call Hamlet a failure, especially if your English teacher is within five miles.)

What does this have to do with you? This has everything to do with your college applications.

The university marketplace

The university marketplace

One of the main things that gets us into the "Am I Worthy?" mindset about college is that we don't really understand colleges--especially admissions. When we're high school students, living among a bunch of other high school students, it's easy to see how unique and different each high school student is. Lumping them all together is really quite silly. 

Writing your college mission statement

Writing your college mission statement

I normally hate mission statements. Ideally, a mission statement is honest, written well, to the point, helpful, and something that directs the group on a daily basis. As far as I can tell, no mission statement actually meets all those criteria. Personal, as opposed to organization, mission statements are even worse. They're usually so grandiose and vague that there's no way they can actually direct a person's energy and actions toward a better future. To my thinking, a feasible and actionable to-do list for tomorrow is almost always going to be better than a big fuzzy mission statement that covers the next three years.

But the thing is, college admissions season is actually a pretty good time to write a mission statement.