Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Reason you should do What Nobody Else Does

By Patrick.O'Connor

A high school junior was getting ready to attend a college fair, so she stopped by her school counselor’s office to get some advice on how to prepare.  They talked about the colleges she might want to talk to, the questions she should ask, and the importance of writing down the answers each college gave her.

The counselor then suggested the student take a copy of her transcript along to show to the college admission officers.  “It will give them a sense of what you’ve done, and they can offer suggestions on what you can take next year.”

“Does anyone else do this?” the girl asked.

“No” the counselor responded, “but you should.”

The week after the college fair, the girl’s mother came by the counseling office.  “Thank you so much for talking to my daughter before the college fair.  The colleges were impressed by the questions she asked, she felt more confident, and after she showed them her transcript, one college even said they’d most likely offer her a scholarship worth $68,000.”

The key to this student’s success lies in three simple steps:

She planned ahead.  By paying attention to school announcement and counselor e-mails, the student had ample time to know the college fair was coming.  This gave her plenty of time to prepare for the event.

She asked for help.  Part of her preparation was realizing she didn’t know what to do, but because she had plenty of time before the event, she was able to get the assistance she needed—and was able to do so without putting the counselor in a time crunch.

She acted on the advice she was given.  It would have been easy enough to thank the counselor, walk out of the office, and forget what his advice was.  It also would have been easy enough for her to say “Is he serious?  I’m not going to be the only one to take a transcript to the college fair!” But she knew her counselor well enough to trust his advice, and felt confident enough to do what she needed to do to take care of herself—and that confidence made all the difference.

In about a month, many seniors will start to panic, and decide it’s time for desperate measures:  mailing homemade chocolate chip cookies to the admissions office; renting billboard space on every freeway that leads to the college, to make sure the rep reading your application knows your name and face; signing up for 9 clubs at the start of senior year.

Instead of panicking in a month, sit down two weeks from now and think about the next steps you need to take on your college path.  Once that’s done, seek out the help you need to complete that work, then take action.  This may not bring the same adrenaline rush as writing your college essays ten minutes before they’re due, but in the hurricane that college admissions can become, there’s a lot to be said for operating from the center that’s the calm of the storm.

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