Lately, my inbox has been filling up with e-mails from students wanting to know, “what else can I do to help my chances of being admitted?” But before getting to this question, many of these electronic notes begin with a inventory of all the things the student has already checked off their college application to do list: visited the campus, set-up an interview, had an interview, written their essay, edited and re-edited their essay, re-edited the re-edited essay, created a detailed activities resume, met with athletic coaches, spoke with current students, spoke with alums, met with a fortuneteller (just kidding), studying hard and focusing intently on senior year coursework…and so on.
I understand the intense desire many of you have to make sure you’re covering your all you bases. The college application process is extremely intimidating, because in many respects, it is set-up to make you feel like you only have one chance to get it right–to do it perfectly.
So what’s my answer to the aforementioned question? What wisdom do I have to impart to you and these students who have written me wanting to “improve their chances?”
I think some of you are about to hyperventilate from the stress of trying to juggle collegiate concerns, with your already busy senior year schedules. This post is really more of a public service note advocating (at least) the occasional mental decoupling from the whole “college thing,” to improve your current quality of life. My advice is to breathe…relax…take a moment and go try to find some cloud animals or something. The catalog of activities would suggest you’re already doing the things that “improve your chances.”
Perfection is an illusion. There isn’t a prefect or magic combination of activities and contacts with the school that will assure your admission. There is no secret kernel of advice we’re not sharing (we share it all–hence the blog!). All the listed items can be important parts of the your college application process, but do yourself a favor and investigate what economists refer to as the “law of diminishing returns.” If you’re already doing the things your guidance/college counselor, parents, teachers, and/or colleges recommend, know that you can let go of the some of the worry and anxiety that assail you. You’re on track.
Now go see if you can find a cumulonimbus cow or some altostratus alligators.