I dole out a TON of admissions advice. Students I meet on campus, groups of parents at junior nights, random folk who just happen to be seated next to me on long haul flights… I don’t discriminate. If you want insight into how we do our work, I am more than eager to help (can you pick me out in the lineup above?).
And I think I know why. Once upon a time, when I was your age, I didn’t get a lot of advice about the college process. I was a little bit fiercely independent and my school was a little bit under resourced and the internet was only kind of a thing (I was steps away from my diploma when College Confidential gained popularity and Facebook opened its gates to high schoolers), so I was a bit of a lone ranger. My guidance counselor and two or three trusted teachers would weigh in from time to time and I valued their input. My parents probably tried to help but (and here’s the fierce independence) they didn’t even know where I was applying until I asked for checks to cover application fees. In hindsight, my entire process was kind of hapless and poorly planned and uninformed. I didn’t even take the SAT2 until moments before the deadlines because I didn’t know they existed.
But I got into college. And LOVED college. And graduated from college. And went on to be a fully functional adult (ish).
So as far as I’m concerned the best advice is: No Advice. Or at least less advice.
Our website is full of wisdom provided by students and staff about how to navigate the admissions process. But that advice is all about optimization. It will teach you to perfect a college application. It will let you maximize every opportunity, suck the marrow from the bones of the Common App, build a file that is harder, better, faster, stronger… wait, where was I?
You’re welcome to help yourself to any or all of it, but remember: applying to college is not rocket science. You don’t need any of this, nor do you need the advice of every Huffington Post contributor and College Confidential poster with a handle so ludicrous it would make my middle school AIM screen names look thoughtful and mature.
We know you’re nervous, we know you’re unsure, we know you’re hungry for information and that’s why we’re here to help. But applying to college is a process that can be survived by an unaided 17 year old. Fill out the forms, submit things by the deadlines, and be true to yourself. The rest is all gravy.
(Illustration credit: Pat Scullion)