We used to offer a seminar for our Collegewise families called, “Surviving Senior Season.” We wanted to show our seniors how stress-free and successful their application season could be if they avoided common mistakes. We hoped that if we pointed out the negative effects of applying to too many reach schools, missing appointments, or not adhering to Collegewise deadlines, they’d be more likely to avoid those mistakes and stay on track.
But after two years, we stopped offering it when I realized something really important—most of our students didn’t make those mistakes.
Only about 10% of our students were making things harder on themselves and on us. That small group was taking up a lot of our time and energy. But they were the exception. The other 90% didn’t need a seminar to warn them what would happen if they didn’t take their applications seriously. It was like we were standing in front of a room comprised of mostly fit people and listing all the reasons why they shouldn’t sit on the couch all day and eat junk food. So we stopped.
When someone does something wrong, it can be tempting to institute a rule, enact a policy, or put up a sign to prevent that behavior in the future. But that doesn’t work, and worse, it punishes the masses. Run your organization for the good folks, and deal with the bad apples individually.