Be Authentic in the College Admission Process!
What do these two images have in common? They’re both fake. The definition of fake is:
- To prepare or make something false, deceptive, or fraudulent.
- To pretend.
- To conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive.
The alien is very obviously fake, created to entertain, or maybe deceive, but we know with certainty (at this point in time) that it is a fake. The watch (Rolex) is a little more difficult… Is it fake? What’s the difference? The alien doesn’t require an expert to see through, it is obviously fake. The Rolex may pass by most people, but it won’t pass by everyone. This is kind of like the college admissions process. Learning to be authentic is a critical part of the process.
Very soon we are going to be teaching you all about the admissions (application) process and one of the first things you will learn are that the first step to the application process is creating a portrait of who you are and how you can benefit the college. Filling out your application in complete honesty is vital. Being an authentic student is about knowing who you are, and what you want. It is about discovering your strengths and living in them every day. Being authentic is about being real with yourself and everyone else around you.
There are a couple of key areas that people try and “make up” at the last minute in order to be more of what the college they’re trying to go to wants such as:
- Community service. Some students have never helped a soul in their life (on paper anyway) and then in their senior year they somehow track 160 hours of community service. To your parents you might be a saint (see fake Rolex above), but to college admissions counselors, you’re just another con (see obvious alien fake).
- Fake Essays. Don’t you want to make yourself look good? Yes! But an essay that isn’t written by you, or has been seriously doctored by someone else just screams “FAKE!” Don’t try to fake it! Be real and passionate and write about what you really care about, what has really made a difference in your life! You won’t fool a trained essay reader who reads hundreds of essays a day; they can spot an alien faker a mile away.
- Recommendations: A lot of emphasis has been put on recommendations in recent years; but don’t be a faker! If you don’t know the person, don’t ask them for a recommendation! Make sure you get to know important people in your life (like a pastor, your guidance counselor, or a family friend who happens to be alumni from Harvard), and make sure they know you! When you go to ask them for a recommendation, they will already know you and will be excited to write you a recommendation that is believable and real.
While there are more areas we could discuss, these are some of the major areas, and it is vital that you be honest with yourself and your college. Here’s a little tip- Colleges are looking to pepper their campuses with talented and diversified students, this means that you don’t have to fit inside of a box that I create, or your parents create, or the college creates. You must have good grades and test scores, this proves your work ethic- but secondarily, the college needs to see why you would be a good fit for their school.
Authentic applicants take the long view of an educational journey, as they look at what the college years will actually contribute in the form of skills, knowledge, and values to their goal of living a meaningful life. They avoid getting locked into the quest for a “dream school,” a path that would restrict their options. They consider their families’ finances, and they research all the options available, including some little-known ones available at the least-expensive schools. At the same time, they don’t shy away from a selective school that’s right for them simply because it.
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