2 – STUDENT – Not all students / applicants know or understand the importance of conveying their story and the context of their life experiences.
Let me pause again – because I’m going to go out on a limb and make a bold statement –
Most Students do not realize the importance of conveying their personal story, personal history, and personal challenges to the admission office.
Let me explain – while you are listening to this podcast wherever you are in the country, you found me because you are looking for information about the college admission process and you want to become familiar with how to navigate this journey. I am doing my Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah cheer right now – because YOU ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING. AND MY MISSION IS TO GET MORE INFORMATION TO EVERY FAMILY IN AMERICA.
BUT THE SAD REALITY is this: the student to counselor ratio in our country is just under 500:1 – and in my home state of California, it is nearly double that.
So – while in my world it seems that everyone knows which ingredients to add to the college application, that is NOT the reality across school districts, states, and in our country. Period. Students who KNOW which ingredients go in the application have one or both of the following: 1 – adults in their life who know and pass that information on to them, and/or 2 – attend a high school where there is a college-going culture and they get info from counselors/ teachers/ peers.
I will use myself as an example. I had to write an essay to get into USC. It was the only essay I had to write that year. I chose to write about being on student council – the essay was about delivering my first speech to the whole school. That’s what I wrote.
No mention of my parents’ separation – I was embarrassed.
No mention of having to work to supplement and cover my additional teenage expenses – I didn’t find that different – all my friends had a part- time job.
No mention of camping as our form of family vacation – it didn’t occur to me that other families traveled outside of the country – I’d never been outside the state.
Think about it. When all you know is what and how you grew up — it doesn’t occur to you that it is special and worth writing about.
The onus falls on the student for capturing the context — but many don’t do it and/or believe they need to write about something way more impressive than sharing a room with little brother while Mom works 3 jobs.
For a kid like me – applying to college was “fancy” – so I had to be my “fanciest” self in the application. Otherwise, how would I prove to be worthy?