Not a life-defining day

Admissions decisions from colleges aren’t life defining. They can feel like it at the time.  A lot of hard-working students spend their high school years driven to gain admission to a particular (or to a particular type of) college.  So when the “Yes,” or “No” arrives, it can feel like your high school career has just been validated or […]

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Rejected by your dream school? You’re in good company

From a great piece in yesterday's Wall Street Journal about college rejection letters and the people who've received them: "Teenagers who face rejection will be joining good company, including Nobel laureates, billionaire philanthropists, university presidents, constitutional scholars, best-selling authors and other leaders of business, media and the arts who once received college or graduate-school rejection […]

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Meant to be

Most kids feel like they're attending the college they were meant to attend.  Some just take a little longer to realize it than others. Several years ago, I was invited back to my alma mater, UC-Irvine, as the keynote speaker at the freshman orientation program.  In the audience were several hundred new freshmen and their […]

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Have you got swagger?

I worked with a student once who had all the characteristics you need to get into the most selective colleges.  Perfect grades, perfect test scores, a voracious appetite for learning, an excitement about all the opportunities waiting for him in college, likeable, self-effacing, and most importantly, he had a little–just a little–swagger. I say "a […]

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A college admissions secret

Did you know that colleges love stamp-collectors?  They go just crazy for stamp collectors.  Can't get enough of 'em.      OK, I'm kidding (a little).  Colleges don't have a special affinity for stamp-collectors any more than they do any other activity.  What colleges love is passion. It really doesn't matter what your passion is–dance, […]

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What are you going to be when you grow up?

Some people think the only way to be a success is to go to a famous college.  Some people think you have to know what you want to do before you go to college so you can pick the right major.  I've never believed either of those to be true. Here's an example.  One particular […]

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Mental health tips for parents of the college-bound

Parents inevitably share the stress of the college application process (sometimes you may unwittingly be the source of it, but that's a different blog entry).  When the SAT scores don't go up as much as you'd hoped or when the C on the geometry test comes home, parents feel that stress.  When you hear all […]

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Please don’t play the multiple deposit game

Seniors who've been admitted to several desirable colleges need to make some difficult decisions next month, as colleges require admitted students to declare their intention to enroll by May 1.  It can be a stressful time especially for a student who is really struggling with the decision. But whatever you do, don't try to cheat […]

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Lunch “brakes”

No one in the history of my hometown could drive from my high school’s parking lot to my family’s house faster than I could.  It wasn’t easy, safe or completely legal, but for three months during the spring of my senior year, I drove home every day at lunch to check the mailbox hoping to […]

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