The Advice From A College Counselor That Is Almost Always WrongI have been working in the field of college success, college readiness and college applications for several years.

If you happen to chance upon my resume, you may notice that I have applied and been accepted to many schools throughout my life.

I have been lucky to have been advised by some great counselors, but I have noticed that there is something that I was never told during any of my application processes.

There seems to be a kind of secret perpetuated in college admissions that is serving neither you nor your child.
Here it is:

Apply to more schools.

Wait… apply to more schools, you say? Why would I do that? Moreover, why would they advise me to keep a small list?

Although your school college counselor does have a vested interest in your success, his or her loyalty is to your high school and producing good numbers for the school.

As I probably have mentioned once or twice on this blog, I am not a numbers person, but have you ever seen your college counselor pull out the graphs of who from your school has been accepted into each specific college?

It is important for prospective students and parents to have a lot of acceptances and not many rejections for each top university. That is why a college counselor’s chief job is to manage your expectations and thereby protect those precious graphs for future students.

Have you ever asked about the one acceptance with the mediocre grades and so-so SAT/ACT scores? I have.

And the average college counselor has a pat answer: That was an anomaly because that student was a brave teenage astronaut who advocated for homeless puppies in his spare time.

While I believe there are extraordinary circumstances that allow some people to be accepted to reach schools, maybe those extraordinary circumstances can be yours. (And we can help!).

Good is The Enemy of Great

My clients and friends often hear me remark, “Good is the enemy of great.”  This is a refrain I ingrain into my clients. Do not settle for good when you are capable of greatness. Endeavor for the extraordinary, including in your college admissions.

So what if you get twelve rejections? Reject that rejection and keep it moving! There is a lot of logic to applying to a few more schools in order to keep your options open. Don’t be dissuaded by those not firmly in your camp. As a lawyer, I can state that there is a reason that you aren’t ethically allowed (This is a bit simplistic, but I am not writing to you as a lawyer today.) to represent two clients with competing interests. You can’t possibly give both people fully relevant and profound advice.

With that, I say: Take advice from your counselor with a grain of salt. The college experience may be one of the most expensive investments of your life. Don’t let one person (with perhaps conflicting interests) decide that future for you.

Roll the dice and seek advice from people who only have you and your student’s best interest in mind.

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