With all the TV programming dedicated to so-called reality, games and people doing bizarre things to get on the news, one would think that self-expression has become second nature to everyone. This is definitely not the case.
Year after year I watch high school students who have achieved amazing things downplay their interesting and exciting accomplishments. Their demeanor and upbringing cause them to err on the side of modesty. I admire that trait but encourage them to set it aside when working on their college application files.
What most students fail to understand is that the entire application file is an attempt by the colleges to gather information about them. Leaving portions of their story untold will short-circuit the system and skew the image projected by their file. The idea is to fall just short of bragging in order to paint a vibrant picture for admissions committees to see.
Too often, the opinions formed by the student for a particular college lead them to anticipate what they “think” the college wants to hear from them. They abandon candid responses to questions in an attempt to deliver what they “think” would be a better response. That is like putting stats for Taye Diggs or Jennifer Aniston on a dating profile. The person you eventually meet for a date will likely be disappointed when you show up…
The other end of the spectrum is the student who tends to “embellish” their achievements. Bragging about impressive achievements can be dangerously close to the line sometimes but adding things that didn’t actually happen is playing with fire. You have to look no further than “The Scandal” to see what colleges think about providing false information.
The secret ingredient is that there is no secret ingredient. (My first quote from “Kung Fu Panda”) Tell the colleges who you are and see if they think you will fit into the culture they nurture on their campus. If not, they are doing you a huge favor by not inviting you to their campus. Believe me, it’s nothing personal. Not every campus is the best place for every student. Put your best foot forward when completing the applications and trust that the colleges will ask the right people out for that four-year date.