Three years ago this month, I was in the office, sitting across from a then-rising senior, whom we’ll call “Alexa” (that’s her real name). Her eyes were watering, and she was visibly shaking.
Back story: “Alexa” (still her real name) and I had been working on her college applications, essay and resume all summer.
She was gunning for several ultra-competitive colleges, with super-low acceptance rates, which, frankly, was where she belonged because her grades, test scores and extracurricular activities were off the charts!
But this story is about her resume, and what happened when she showed it to her high school guidance counselor.
After Alexa and I had whittled her resume down to slightly more than two pages, but “punched it up” so that her descriptions popped with words and phrases that resonate with admissions officers (“Duties and responsibilities,” etc.), Alexa decided to show it to said guidance counselor.
Two days later, she was in my office, upset, trying to tell me what her guidance counselor “advised:”
“Don’t send it.”
Taken aback, Alexa asked, “Why not?”
“Admissions officers may not have been the same kind of kid as you when they were in high school, so they’d look at this like you’re showing off.”
I can feel the steam coming out of my ears as I write this, even though it was three years ago.
First of all, many of the admissions officers at the schools Alexa was applying to WERE the same type of kid in high school, that’s how they got into these super-competitive colleges.
Second, “Showing off?” What the H-E-double hockey sticks are you doing when you apply to college, trying to fade into the background like a shrinking violet?
Should Alexa have whited out her GPA, AP classes and SAT scores too?
What if her admissions officers were fat pigs? Alexa was in shape, wouldn’t that make them feel bad about their body images?
If you want to give yourself the best shot at getting in where you want to go, you’d better understand that it’s almost equally about marketing as your merits (grades, scores, etc.).
This advice was more than dumb, it actually could have hurt Alexa’s chances of getting into her Dream School, had she been insecure enough to follow it. (Spoiler alert – she blew off her guidance counselor’s ill-formed opinions and got in where she wanted to go.
Sadly, this advice is the rule, not the exception.
I’m about to tread on thin ice here, I know I’m going to piss off a LOT of people. But here’s the truth:
Most guidance counselors cannot relate to kids like Alexa. They were not high-achieving students themselves.
And, let’s face it – most guidance counselors became counselors because teaching was too rigorous a career for them.
I’m not saying ALL guidance counselors are lazy, slothful and give crappy advice. In fact, there are several guidance counselors on my list who “follow” me because they’re trying to learn a different perspective.
All I’m saying is that you need to be ultra-careful about the qualifications of the “experts” who are offering their wisdom.
Our “Incomparable Applicant” College Essays and Applications Bootcamp this weekend (Friday-Sunday) is almost sold out.
You can still sign up and earn an instant 33% off “scholarship” using the coupon code “Standout,” for now.
If the code doesn’t work for you, that means we pulled it.
If you want your kid to write an essay that sings and an application that screams “I’m the one!” – without any threatening, begging or nagging on your part – this is for you.
Please pass this onto anyone who needs this info (and can handle the truth).
-Andy “Not Popular In The Break Room” Lockwood