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    Life's Achievements...may be overrated!

    Life's Achievements...may be overrated!

    Life isn't about what you can achieve, but rather what you can become!

    As we approach our July 4th celebration, think about who you can become.

    Why? Because there's no place on earth like the U.S. for becoming the person you'd most like to become. But you have to have that mindset...and few do.

    If accumulating achievements is what you're after, then that's how you'll be judged.  

    If becoming a kinder and gentler, considerate and caring person full of inspiration and encouragement to share with others, then that's how you'll be judged.

    I'll leave it up to you to decide upon for yourself.

    Me? I'm still working on what I can become. It's been a 50-year work in progress (I started after Little League, ha)!

    Misguided Strategies and Rejections

    Misguided Strategies and Rejections

    When the learning-curve talks, people should listen! 


    There are several ways to be told "No". 

    I remember the first time I asked a girl out on a date like it was yesterday...she said- "No".

    First kiss attempt..."No".

    I tried out for the H.S Varsity Basketball team..."No".


    There are "No's" and there are "Rejections".

    I was born in Tennessee. I wanted to attend the Univ. of Tennessee..."Denied" (same as rejected, ha).

    Okay, UVA..."Denied".

    Somewhere along the way, I got a date, a first kiss, an acceptance into Clemson. I tried out for their golf team..."No". 

    Who forgets those early no's, rejections, denials? Not me. I remember them better than the yesses.

    I was visiting with my Therapist just last week. She asked me- "Do you have scars left from any teen-age rejections?" 

    I said- "Yes!" (I won't mention her name to protect the guilty, ha)

    My wonderful therapist said- "That answers some real questions."

    Do you still remember when you were rejected by that boy or girl, team or group of friends? If you really felt it, you will never forget it.

    As parents, if we felt the pain then and can still remember it now, maybe we need to think about that as we formulate a college application & admission strategy for our kids. 

    Sure, it's perfectly okay to get a denial or two, but how about 6, 8, 10, or even 15 denials? Does that bother you? Not likely because it's not your pain, rather, it's your child's pain. 

    Your child’s future or sense of self-esteem should not be bet on a shot in the dark to YOUR dream school (not a typo…your dream school, not theirs).

    Stick with me here. This is a constant theme ringing throughout America and beyond. People applying to 10, 12, 15, 18 colleges on a whim that just maybe their child was suddenly a qualifier for admissions into "reach" schools or that applying to more schools would create greater opportunities for a reach-school acceptance. 

    The "just maybe" strategy was born in the "Test-Optional" era. It's a terribly misguided strategy filled with fallacies and predictable, painful results.

    I've seen and heard so many parents gloating over the names and numbers of colleges their child applied to. But those same parents typically go silent a few months later upon receiving the predictable admission decisions.

    All that effort and energy going into writing several supplemental essays and then submitting 8, 12, or even 15 applications to mostly "just maybe" schools would yield much greater results if used on the 5 - 6 top priority and realistic colleges of your child. 

    And quite frankly, getting four of six acceptances surely beats getting a stream of ten or twelve denials.

    In full disclosure here, a dad-client of mine and I were just having this discussion last weekend. He inspired this memo and helped me craft the message.

    He did something very unusual, and yet, very effective...perhaps even brilliant. The family strategy was to apply to six colleges with two being their daughter's top priority colleges. The other four applications combined match and reach schools. Upon receiving the first two decisions, both acceptances to her top two schools- Texas A&M and Northeastern, they withdrew the other four applications.

    Most people would ask, why would they do that? Dad instinctively knew that his daughter could live her life knowing that she was 2-for-2! There was no further need to add possible rejection into the mix. She'll be off to Northeastern in the fall. I love that.

    On the contrary, each year I receive so many random calls from unhappy parents sharing their woes upon learning of their child being denied many times over, including denials from their top choice schools. They must look to me to have a sympathetic ear.  

    If the learning-curve could talk, it would say-

    Ditch the just-maybe strategy. Don't chase the test-optional policy. Rejections are not your loss nor your pain. Rather, the pain is felt by your child and is a forever-pain.

    Focus your effort and energy on the few schools having the desired academics, student culture, living environment, and influences that will help your child unleash the massive potential they have within themselves. If you do this, you'll enjoy forever-satisfaction!

    Validate & Prioritize

    Validate & Prioritize

    "You can do what you love and fail. But you can also do what you don't love and fail...and that's a lot worse."- Sean Cleveland, a great colleague of mine!

    I love that quote...thanks Sean!

    Parents most often validate and prioritize their own interests for their kids, over the interests of their kids. It's been the way of parenting for a long time...maybe forever.

    It works well when it comes to pack-survival, but not when it comes to creating successful opportunities and satisfactory outcomes for kids as they're turning into young adults.

    However, I see the beginning of a shift to occur. It's possibly inspired by the parents' response to the Covid-isolation of their kids.  

    In the last two years or so, I see a significant increase in a parent's willingness to better understand their child's deep internal passion and desire. And it's a beautiful thing.

    So, here's my greatest tip ever.

    The key to enabling your child to live the life that they most want for themselves, rather than the life you may want for them, is to be open-minded to hear their interests, validate their feelings, and prioritize their desires in life's most important matters
    COLLEGE, for one. Just make it about them.

    I simply call it- Validate and Prioritize!

    Parents need to establish parameters, boundaries, and standards in raising children. But it's just as important to encourage and facilitate the child's exploration and self-discovery. 
    This will lead to profound realizations which will then guide the pathway to a child's life success and satisfaction.

    My greatest tip ever-

    Validate and Prioritize, make it about them!

    The Merit in Merit largely gone

    The Merit in Merit largely gone

    Scholarships that used to be awarded for academic achievement,

    are now nothing much more than "sticker-price discounts". 

    The typical merit scholarship award in most colleges today has become a direct reflection of the need to discount their price in order to fill their seats. 

    For a clear example, the top ranked 50 colleges don't offer scholarships. Why not? Because they don't have to. There are enough parents willing to pay the full asking price to enroll their child into these schools. The perceived value in these colleges will assure them of a full freshman class each year. 

    These same 50 colleges have led the tuition, room & board, run-up in cost over the last 15 years, doubling in total cost. The next few hundred colleges have similarly followed suit by running up their costs as well. For them, it's a superficially-driven, price inflation strategy without having the perceived value to support their cost.  

    For these colleges, people are not willing to pay full price, nor should they. They have had to resort to using the merit scholarship award as a price-discounting tool to incentivize families to enroll. Otherwise, they would fall short of their enrollment-needs. In Admission Offices, this is called "Enrollment Management". It is tightly applied, which means they wouldn't do it if they didn't have to.

    Hence, merit scholarships are typically awarded as a discount off the inflated tuition cost of a college in order to achieve full enrollment.

    A note about Certificate Value-
    Top tier colleges build a layer of cost into their price based on what they refer to as "certificate value". It's the value people place on putting the college name on the diploma.

    Certificate value is highly marketable for top tier colleges coming at a steep price for the parents. 

    Test Optional- Inside the Numbers

    Test Optional- Inside the Numbers

    When it comes to applications, nothing that is offered as "optional" should be considered optional.

    Statistics are coming in for this application cycle, no surprises. For most colleges, the number of applications are up while acceptance rates are down. Why?

    The Common App and college's "test-optional" policy make it easy to submit more applications. I've heard way too many stories of students submitting 15-20 applications. Accordingly, top schools have been deluged with applicants applying "test-optional" in blind-hopes of parents that their child is suddenly a qualifier. When in reality, colleges easily see through this resulting often in a quick minute quick. Why would it be any other way?

    At $75 per application fee times 60 denials per hour, they have a potential $4,500/ hour return...hmmm.

    I am certain of one thing- acceptance rates for test-optional applicants are far lower than applicants who submit qualifying test scores. Think about that if your child is planning to submit applications without test scores. I have one firm belief when it comes to applications, nothing that is offered as "optional" should be considered optional.

    Test-optional skews the numbers. It can increase the applicant pool by 50% while increasing fee-income by $750,000 - $1,500,000.  It can lower the acceptance rate by 1/3. It's a big win for the colleges, but not so for the applicants.   

    When acceptance rates decline, creating this sense of being "highly selective", tuition costs increase and scholarship awards decline...just look at those numbers over the last three years. 

    It appears to me that the test-optional policy has gained major traction in colleges. It has become a massively effective Sales & Marketing policy. With the growing buy-in of parents who view test-optional favorably, it's likely to stick around for a while.  

    Lastly, please don't fall for the belief that colleges no longer value the SAT/ ACT. They definitely value standardized testing. Why? Because test-scores of incoming freshmen represent the fourth highest weighted factor of 15 factors that go into the college rankings. And one thing you can be 100% certain of...colleges greatly value their ranking!