Tomorrow, I'm heading to the nation's largest annual college admissions conference where I'll get to spend some time with admissions officers I've had the pleasure of getting to know in the last several years. And based on past experiences, here are some things that various members of the group might do.
Some will go out for a beer or two when the sessions conclude. Some will skip a workshop if their beloved Dallas Cowboys or Chicago White Sox or New Orleans Saints are being televised. Some will go out of their way to find what's reported to be the best pizza in town. Some will talk about looking for love on match.com, or why Lost is the best television show ever created, or how they've wasted $60 a month for the last two years on a gym membership they've never used. They'll talk about what they love–and what drives them crazy–about their jobs. And they'll do some gossiping about who's dating whom from their offices.
I mention all of this because some students have an impression of an admissions officer that couldn't be further from the truth–cold, emotionless professionals who are moved only by high grades and test scores.
These are real people. They're just like everyone else. It's important for students to understand that when you apply to college, one of these real people reads your application, a person who might like Glee just as much as you do, who may have many of the same songs on their Ipods that you do, who may love baseball or musicals or reading People magazine just as much as you do. And just about all of them are good people who work hard and want to do right by kids. Even those who work at schools that have to reject most of the applicants would much rather admit a kid than deny him.
So when you apply to college, don't try too hard to sell yourself. Don't be too self-conscious to admit what you aren't good at. Just be confident enough to tell the truth and be yourself. They don't expect you to be perfect. They just expect you to be a 17 year-old who's happy, confident and excited about college.