Self-motivation

It’s easy to feel motivated when the conditions are perfect, especially when there’s an encouraging outside voice cheering us on. But if you’re willing to bring your best effort only when you like the teacher, coach, boss, etc., you’re putting your motivation in someone else’s hands. And motivation is entirely too powerful an asset to […]

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“I did what I was asked to do”

There’s no shame in doing what you were asked to do. You can do a lot worse than being a compliant worker, colleague, teammate, etc. who can always be counted on to follow instructions. But it’s not a role that’s likely to help you stand out. If the best you bring is simply doing what […]

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Five application management tips for parents

I spend a lot of time here reminding parents that your most important college-admissions-related job is to be the parent of your applicant. Love your student unconditionally. Remember that it’s all about them, not you. Cheer them on and don’t act like a lunatic on their behalf. During this stressful time, your kids need a parent […]

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When to ignore bad reviews

Some of the best-selling books of all time have hundreds of one-star reviews on Amazon. From classics like Don Quixote and A Tale of Two Cities to contemporary works like Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code, they’ve sold copies into the hundreds of millions. But they’ve also got their fair share of one-star reviewers who just didn’t […]

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Perceived risk

I’m not sure I could ever summon the bravery to run into a burning building to save a stranger. That’s why I could never be a firefighter. As much as that news would have devastated me at age four, I’m comfortable with it today. That kind of courage is wiring I don’t have. But I’ve noticed that […]

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Why teens need play time, too

If you’re a parent for whom the phrase “play time” has a frivolous connotation when applied to your teen, this ten-minute interview with Denise Pope of Challenge Success and Sandra Russ, clinical child psychologist and professor of psychological sciences at Case Western Reserve University, might change your mind. They’re not advocating that kids sacrifice their […]

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The first minute

The last minute does something pretty extraordinary for people. It forces us to act. The deadline is here. The paper is due. Auditions are today. Just one spot left. When time runs out, tomorrow isn’t an option. Today is all that’s left. But while the last minute is great for getting us going, it usually […]

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The metric to maximize

It’s hard to think of a better metric to drive us than “How many people trust me?” Not people who like your social media post—that’s not real trust. How many people know they can count on you to tell the truth and keep your promises? How many people would pick you first to join their […]

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Your opportunity is waiting

Any student who applies to a highly selective college is exhibiting laudable bravery. The only way for a college to become that selective is to deny just about everyone who applies, including students with off-the-charts scores and accomplishments. You’ll see unforgiving math at work when the highest achievers from all over the world apply to the same […]

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How many stars do you deserve?

Gabe the Bass Player shares an interesting idea on his blog. What would happen if every music concert came with a rating of 1-10 stars people could see before they bought tickets? And here’s the catch. What if the musicians chose their own rating? If you’re a musician, now you’d have a choice to make. Out of ten […]

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