What have they done vs. what will they do?

If you run a counseling office or a business of any kind, at some point you might be in the position of needing to hire someone. Most recruiters start that process by composing a list of desired education, experience, or skills, then running a help wanted ad and waiting for people to apply.

The problem with that approach is that it often focuses entirely on what those candidates have done as opposed to what they’ll need to do to be successful in this new role.

For example, we have a lot of counselors at Collegewise who worked as colleges admissions officers. It’s clear that their experience reading, evaluating, and debating those applications brings value to our customers and our company. But that experience alone doesn’t make someone an appealing applicant for a counseling role here.

Helping someone apply to college is entirely different from evaluating that person’s application on the other side. A college admissions officer doesn’t share responsibility for a student’s college admissions outcomes the way our counselors do. They don’t explain the best approaches for one particular student to take in the application and the essays, which might be very different for the next student in line for an appointment that day. They don’t regularly have difficult conversations with families about why some schools may be out of reach, suggest schools that might be a good fit, or help each individual student make the best decisions for them about everything from classes to standardized tests to colleges.

What our counselors need to do is win trust easily. They need to be astute so they can accurately read people and situations. They need to be intellectually curious to learn and retain all the information we train—and that will always be left to know—about college admissions. They need to project confidence so families know they’re in good hands. They need to get kids to like them and parents to trust them.

Just because someone worked at Princeton or Duke or MIT doesn’t necessarily mean they can do all or any of those things. The experience of what they’ve done becomes valuable when paired with the innate talents to thrive in what they’ll be doing.

We went through a similar process when I wrote the help wanted ad for our first inside salesperson. Sure, experience and demonstrated success in sales is a great starting point—this isn’t a good gig for someone who hasn’t already proven they can sell. And we needed people who would be comfortable when held accountable for results.

But even more importantly, they needed to be teachers at heart who were as excited about helping a family make the best decision for them as they were about making a sale. They needed to be thoughtful, clear communicators on the phone and in writing. We needed people we could trust to make our first impression for us. So that’s exactly who we looked for, and thankfully, who we eventually found.

So before you run the same old help wanted ad asking for credentials and experience and references, spend some time thinking about the true answer to the question, “What will it take to be successful in this role?” Those items on the resume might still have a lot of value. But what applicants have done won’t be as important as what they’ll do once they’re in the job.

Short answer essay help is here

College essays don’t just come in the form of the longer 600-word personal statements. Many colleges’ applications also serve up prompts requiring as few as 150-300 words on topics like why you’ve chosen to apply to that college, what you learned from a failure or mistake, and which activity has had the most meaning for you. When handled well, these shorter essays give applicants multiple opportunities to share more about themselves in ways that the rest of the application—and the longer essay—have not yet revealed.

If you’re working through or about to start writing your short answer essays, we’ve still got some spaces in tonight’s webinar:

The Art of the Short Answer 
How to write effective responses to those short answer prompts on applications
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (PDT)

Our Collegewise presenters, Nandita and Tom, read thousands of applications at Stanford and Colorado College respectively. They’re both excellent teachers, and they’ll not only help you understand the intent behind these short answer questions, but also help you find and tell your best stories. If you can’t attend live, we’ll be sharing the recording for two weeks following the webinar, but only with those who register. I hope you can join us.

Two upcoming free webinars

Students, parents, and counselors, we’ve got two excellent free webinars coming up featuring four of our Collegewise counselors who’ve collectively read tens of thousands of applications during their time as admissions officers at Harvard, Stanford, Caltech, University of Chicago, and Colorado College. Click into the links below to register. We hope to see you there. And if you can’t attend but want the information, please register anyway—we’ll share the recording for up to two weeks after the event, but only with those people who register.

How to Make Your Common App a Lot Less Common
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (PDT)

The Art of the Short Answer
How to write effective responses to those short-answer prompts on applications
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (PDT)

Update on our Common App Guide

Common App Guide CoverSince its release just one week ago, over 1300 students, parents, and counselors have downloaded our Collegewise Guide to the Common Application. It’s the most comprehensive instruction you can find, written by a team of our counselors and former admissions officers who’ve collectively evaluated thousands of Common Apps, as well as helped hundreds of their own Collegewise students complete their own.

Students, parents, and counselors–you can get your own free copy here. And here’s a past post with suggestions for how each of those groups can best use it.

Our new Common App Guide is here!

CollegewiseCommonAppGuideOur Collegewise Guide to the 2017-18 Common Application is here, revised and updated to reflect the most recent version of the app. And for the third year in a row, it’s free to anyone who wants it. You can get your copy here.

Here are a few suggestions for how you might use our guide:

 

Students

  • If you haven’t started your Common App, complete each section with our help. We think your app will be stronger, and you’ll actually spend less time on the application by just getting it right the first time.
  • If you’ve already finished your Common App, use our guide to do a line-by-line review before you submit.
  • Struggling with just a particular section or two? Our guide can probably help.

Parents

If you are the official college application reviewer in the house, use our guide to review your student’s Common Application (kids should always complete their own college applications even if a parent will review them).

High school counselors

  • Looking to brush up on your Common App knowledge? Spend an hour with our guide and you’ll be a virtual expert.
  • Do your students come to you with questions about the Common App? Keep a copy of our guide on your desk (or bookmark the link to save a tree) and use it whenever you need a second opinion.
  • Share it with colleagues, teachers, and students.
  • Post the link on your website or in your student newsletters.

Private counselors

  • Our guide will teach you exactly what to look for when reviewing your students’ Common Applications.
  • Share the link with your students for them to use at home while they complete their applications.
  • Do you have partners, employees, or interns who work with students? Our guide makes a great training tool.

What we ask of you

If you know a family, counselor, PTA president, community-based organization, etc. who could use this guide or who could put it in the hands of those it might help, please share our download link: http://bit.ly/CollegewiseCommonAppGuide.

I hope you enjoy—and share—it.

Collegewise advice: there’s a video for that

If you’re applying to college and would like some trusted advice from experts, our filmmaker has been capturing some of our counselors sharing their favorite tips. Here are four new videos, all of which are hosted on our YouTube channel.

Five College Essay Clichés to Avoid

Questions to Kickstart your Essay Brainstorm

Debunking College Essay Myths

Asking for Letters of Recommendation

Join us at an upcoming webinar

Collegewise is offering a series of webinars for students, parents, and counselors. The schedule and the links to register are below (I’ll be presenting the August 22 college essay session).

I hope you can join us.

Tuesday, August 22: How to Write a Great College Essay
Wednesday, September 20: How to Make Your Common App a Lot Less Common
Tuesday, October 17: The Art of the Short Answer
Wednesday, November 8It’s Not Too Late: How to Complete Stellar College Applications when Deadlines are Looming

Coming soon—our 2017-2018 Common App Guide

Since 2010, we’ve annually released our Collegewise Common App Guide. It takes applicants through every section of the Common App, line by line, sharing all of our admissions expertise to make sure users present themselves in a compelling way. And for the last two years, we’ve given it away for free.

I’m thrilled to report that we’ll again be releasing this guide free to anyone who wants it, including our competition. Collegewisers Arun and Meredith are busy updating this year’s guide to reflect the most recent changes to the Common Application itself, and they expect to have it polished and ready for release the week of August 17.

If you’d like to be notified when the new guide is available, you can check back here regularly, or just subscribe for updates from the blog. The box to do so is on the left.

That was us then, this is us now

Earlier this month, I shared my plans to rewrite the Careers page of our Collegewise website. What felt fresh in 2006 felt dated today, and it reminded me how powerful it can be to take a new, critical look at things you’ve long since stopped evaluating.

Here’s a screenshot of the old page. That was who we were then. All those words are still true. But Collegewise has grown and evolved since then. We needed to give potential Collegewise applicants the most complete, honest portrayal of the place they’d be joining if they came to work here. We’re not just deciding if they’re right for us; they’re also trying to decide if we’re right for them. And the old page just wasn’t giving them enough information to make that call.

So here’s the new page. It talks a lot more about who we are and what type of person is most likely to be happy and successful at Collegewise. It explains our culture and what it’s actually like to work here. And most importantly, it features the part of Collegewise we’re most proud of—the people, the way we work together, and the comradery that not only makes us happier employees, but also helps us be even better counselors.

All of these principles take a page out of how we’d tell students to present themselves in college applications. Be honest. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Clearly present the most important information. And focus on who you are today, not on who you were many yesterdays ago.

Our new Careers page won’t resonate with everyone who comes across it. And that’s fine. Like colleges, we’re not the right fit for everybody. But now we can be sure again that those who our page resonates with will be responding to the Collegewise we are today.

That was us then. This is us now.

If you know someone who might enjoy working at Collegewise today, please send them the link to our Careers page. If we end up hiring them, we’ll pay you $700 after the person completes three months of successful work.