Why Do We Ask For Help Then Not Accept It?

No need to wonder if I am pointing a finger in your direction, I most definitely am. Few of us are blameless when it comes to this topic. It doesn’t matter whether it is a needed service, professional assistance or a repair problem; our pride will inevitably take over and we will begin making suggestions, if not telling the expert how to do their job.

From my little corner of the world, this regularly takes the form of college lists, crafting essays and information entered into applications. How do you deal with a student and their parents who only want Ivy and/or elite-level colleges on their list when the student doesn’t test well and the GPA is a solid “B”? When every statistic and report available shows that there is less than a 10% chance of admission at every school on the list, I begin preparing for that student to spend that first semester at a community college.

Typically, the disconnect arises from pursuing college for the wrong reasons. Those most often are prestige and pride. The name of the college on the diploma may play a part in helping get some initial interviews after graduation, but all bets are off once you establish a work history. Your performance on the job will trump the name of any college when dealing with savvy employers.

Let’s get back to predicting academic success in college. When the family knows that the student can be successful in a college degree program but the high school academic performance doesn’t reflect it, why would anyone expect that behavior to change? If you were in charge of admissions and got mediocre academic statistics from an applicant who would land them in the bottom 20% of your applicant pool, how likely would you be to vault their application over all the academically outstanding applicants? It does happen with athletes, musicians, artists and others with unique talents and abilities; but even that is no guarantee.

The obstacle in putting together an appropriate list of colleges is pursuit of the “designer” label and ignoring the undeniable quality of the lesser known brand. My advice is to start doing a little more bargain shopping when making a college list. 

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