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    Inside the Box

    Inside the Box

    "We need to think inside-the-box because that's where we tap into our pure potential"- Maria J.


    Here are a few excerpts from the college essay of one of my brilliant Ecuadorian students- Maria J.

    "Thinking outside of the box is backwards!"

    As I sit in on small-business networking groups, I often hear- "Think outside the box."

    I've always thought that to be a bit silly, but I really didn't understand how so until Maria explained it so clearly in her essay. 

    In her excellent college essay, Maria explains-

    "We need to think inside-the-box because that's where we tap into our pure potential."

    "The proverbial box itself is my protective layer-of-skin. Its contents are my thoughts, emotions, desires, vision, values, perspectives, experiences...where my internal potential gives rise to infinite possibilities."

    "Inside the box is where I can dream, visualize, intellectualize, and emotionalize. It's where I can turn my desires into reality."

    Moms, Dads, and students across the planet, this is brilliant. I suggest that we all spend a little more time, maybe a lot more time, thinking inside the box!!!

    Thank you dear Maria J!

    Every Parent's Internal Secret

    Every Parent's Internal Secret

    Every parent's internal secret that we all live with forever is-

    Did we get it right when it counted that is!

    Not college for us, ha, my college career spanned a few years with a 5-year stint with the USAF stuck in the middle of it. I graduated as a 27-year-old.

    I went to work right away in Public Accounting and had my CPA secured soon thereafter. I think things worked out well. At least my Mom always thought so.

    However, Mom felt a sense of need to apologize to me 20 years later for not doing enough to help me get college right. She felt that she needed to apologize to once and finally get the burden off her shoulders. Can you imagine that?

    Much of that inspired me to do this work. Sure, I do it expressly to help kids live the life they want for themselves. But I also knew clearly that I can help parents get college right for their kids, living without the burden of their mistakes made when their kids needed them most to be on top of their game.

    We all live quietly everyday with the internal secret of knowing whether we got it right or not. 

    While parents can fake it outwardly to the rest of the world, no one can fake it internally. Either you got it right or you didn't. There's no middle ground. 

    For those who get it right, they live forever being freed of the guilt that comes with getting it wrong. 

    You see, getting college right is definitely centered on your child's interests, but it has lifelong ramifications on parents. 

    And just to be sure, a last minute scramble to drop off the child at a so-called "elite" college doesn't constitute getting it right.

    Paying $75,000 for an overpriced college doesn't constitute getting it right.

    Making a FB post proclaiming how proud you are of your child doesn't constitute getting it right.

    To rely on the school's Guidance/ College Counselor along with their Naviance "scatter-gram" college selection approach does not constitute getting it right.

    Randomly applying to high-ranked schools with incomplete applications and horrible essays does not constitute getting it right.

    Just getting applications submitted under the deadline with no follow-up or follow-through does not constitute getting it right.

    This process cannot be an overnight effort. It can't be an after-thought. Rather it's a long time in the works.

    I'm reminded of this every morning, including this morning when a parent announced to me that "We talked and we're ready to submit ED to Miami."

    Months have gone into that decision...trips, airline tickets, hotels, visiting colleges, meeting counselors, building credentials, writing essays...the list goes on. 

    All that work results in exploration, self-discovery, and realizations, the things required to get college right. 

    Psychological Blindness and Fish

    Psychological Blindness and Fish

    Psychological blindness is predicated upon people not wanting to bring something into their awareness.

    Quick disclaimer...I am not a Psychologist. I more resemble a Bassist than a Psychologist, ha! I know a few Bass-lines and I know how this term applies to colleges in how they gain emotional-mastery over student-families.

    Another disclaimer...I'm not bashing the colleges, rather, it's their business and they're great at it. I just want to awaken parents to the traps involved, aka- the hooks. Without further delay...

    By tapping into the Psychological Blindness of many parents, colleges have become masters at manipulating adult behavior. Over the past 10 years, they've programmed "hooks" into their College Tours and Information Sessions designed to draw in the emotional interest of parents and their kids. Beware, that's market-manipulation at its best, a market owned by the colleges, driven by the parents.

    Hooks for the parents, the market-makers:

       • We have a 90% job-placement rate

       • Your child doesn't have to know their major yet...we'll help them figure it out.

       • We'll meet your financial-need at 100%

    Hooks for the kids, the pawns in the game:

       • You don't have to know your major yet...we'll help you figure it out

       • We are test-optional

       • Come see our beautiful new dorms

       • Come see our amazing new cafeteria's

    Parents jump onboard, kids jump on board, the psychological-hook is set.

    Next come Financial Award Packages high in cost, low in awards, high in loans...high in anxiety!

    Parents will often say-

       • We'll do anything for our child, they deserve it.

       • We'll find a way to pay.

       • We owe it to them.

    Kids often say-

       • I love it.

       • It's where I want to go.

       • Please mom...or dad...

    The hooks are set, the fish are being reeled in.

    When student-families fall into this emotional trap, they drive the market- price upward. They become the market-makers. On that note, we can't blame the colleges. They are merely running their business with precision controls and influences.

    They are doing what the market allows. The result?

    We will soon have our first $100,000 per year cost of a college. Many more will follow suit thereafter.

    Cost has doubled over the past 12 years or so. Many colleges have eliminated scholarship awards.

    Student-families make many costly mistakes, not just in terms of dollars, but also in terms of the college experience and desired outcomes.

    To their extraordinary success, colleges monetize the emotional-addiction that parents have for their children. I understand. I was one of them!

    In the end, it's up to the parents to not fall for this trap. It's up to parents to be more savvy to what they are about to buy—COLLEGE.

    Don't be a fish!

    Do not fall for the illusion that colleges create for you. They don't have a 90% job-placement rate...none of them do!

    Do not turn it over to your child to manage. They can't manage buying a home, a car, or a $300,000 college!

    Do not think that your school's Guidance Counselor will help make sure that you're on top of your game. It's not their job, not their child, not their money.

    Do get on top of your game. Be knowledgeable, be involved. Your child depends on you now more than ever before.

    The stakes are too big to wait on being involved. The results are too predictable to not be on top of your game. The cost of getting it wrong will be felt forever.

    Don't be a fish!

    Application Essays...Conveyed

    Application Essays...Conveyed

    Convey, not Say

    The purpose of the Application Essay is to keep the reader on the application when at a moment in time they'd like to close the application with a denial

    Please understand that there's not a person out there who can't wait to read your child's 600 word essay, especially knowing they have another 1,000 of them in the queue.

    They'd much prefer to quickly become disinterested, maybe confused, so they can get off it, hit the
    Deny button, and go to the next one...999 to go! If you were them, you'd be the same.

    Our job is to keep the application open, moving the admission counselor towards their college's specific section where
    Acceptances are won.

    Your $75 application fee doesn't buy you their time and attention. Only an essay that's interesting, easy to read, and meaningful to the applicant will keep them reading.

    The bigger picture objective is twofold-

    1) Enhance the reader's experience

    2) Enhance the reader's feelings about the writer 

    Acceptances are not typically won from the essay, but certainly tens of thousands of denials result from misunderstanding its purpose.

    The biggest, most common mistake is to keep pushing what you, the child or parent, want to say. 

    "I want to say..." doesn't work. How about focusing on what you want to convey...this works. It's a huge difference to understand, and not to understate.

    The best essays result when the writer writes for the reader. The key is to know what message you'd like the reader to get and figure out how to deliver it. 

    If you confuse the message, mix up the theme, or misdirect the reader, it's a losing essay. 

    When it comes to this, parents are not good judges. I'm sorry, how can you be? Essays are written to enhance the experience and feeling of a reader who DOES NOT KNOW the writer. 

    Alright, enough said...has my message been well conveyed?

    Casting a Wide Net...

    Casting a Wide Net...

    Casting a wide net is for Commercial Fisherman, not College Applicants!

    As we enter the college application season, note that most of my students will have their top priority colleges applied to by mid-September. This is the application-acceptance strategy that works. There's a big benefit to submitting early applications.

    My strategy is to prepare and submit the student's top 5-6 priority applications first, then focus on those colleges for direct follow-up and follow-through. 

    Follow-up means to maintain routine communications with the college admission counselors until the desired outcomes are secured. 
    Follow-through means to pay close attention to the applicant-portals until the colleges have everything they need to make a decision. 

    Contrary to popular practice, I do not believe in the "casting a wide net" strategy. Typically, that serves to hurt the likelihood of acceptance into your top 5-6 priority colleges. Why? Because submitting random applications for the purpose of "casting a wide net" just in case one hits distracts the student's attention away from their follow-up and follow-through. 

    Casting a wide net is for Commercial Fishermen, not College Applicants!

    However, I am a firm believer in supplementing the initial round of applications with a few applications of colleges that specifically fit into the mix...BINGO!