If you share your address/last name/DNA and/or credit cards with a high school senior, chances are there’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears being shed in your household right about now on that ultimate school project: the college application. Think the second grade igloo was a pain? This oeuvre, multiplied times six or eight or ten, can make one positively pine for the days of gluing sugar cubes together.
So here, my gift to past, present, and future students and their parents: real life translations of the three most popular pieces of advice dispensed by college admissions officers and counselors to hopeful applicants:
1. “Be yourself on the application…”
…as long as you are a published poet (Note: Highlights for Kids doesn’t count), in training for the Olympic luge team, and hail from a geographically desirable locale (i.e. Fiji).
2. “Don’t worry about your (pick one): SATs, grade point average, class rank. We consider the whole student…”
“…in the 4.23 minutes we’ve allotted to read the application you sweated over all fall.”
3. “Use the essay question to really set yourself apart. Don’t be afraid to let your real personality shine through…”
“…provided you taught yourself ancient Sanskrit, collect prehistoric fossils and not body “art,” and practice the dulcimer, not devil worship.”
Have a good student who plays a little driveway hoops and enjoys hanging out at the mall/friends’ houses/in front of the computer? Think a value-added application. Send in a bubble gum model of a proposed new campus Culinary Center (dining room to you and me), Physical Wellness Spa (i.e. a gym), or Transportation Facility (that would be a parking garage) along with the paperwork. If your last name is spelled out in Twizzlers over the entrance, chances are excellent that your scholar’s essay ("Life Lessons: Thursdays with Goldie the Goldfish") will be perceived as positively packed full of personality.