Why Your Identity and Values Are Your Business (And Your College Application!)

On Leonard Kim's show, I talked about why your identity and values are at the core of what should be driving your decisions--on college admissions, in life, and in business. Take a listen!

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How to turn your idea into a successful nonprofit

College and graduate school applicants can build up business experience, leadership experience, and make a difference by starting their own non-profit. 

Take my student, Aiden. Aiden launched a non-profit dedicated to helping teens develop a sense of civic and social responsibility. Her first step to launch was publishing articles and hosting an online forum where students could discuss issues related to social responsibility.

In conjunction with these efforts, she used social media and in-person events to raise awareness about the importance of teen involvement in social causes. She built her platform first by sharing her articles with some friends. Because her friends liked the content, they shared them broadly, and eventually, Aiden built a list of thousands of subscribers.

Aiden parlayed her list that into online webinars and training events. There were fits and starts along the way--challenges of building her team, retaining partnerships, and maintaining momentum....

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What’s my passion in the first place?

If you remember Mike's story, he had a fantastic focus and passion for writing. But other students, maybe even you (don’t worry if this is you!) feel relatively uncertain about their true interests and passions.

There are lots of good ways to solve this problem, and here’s one way to start. My colleagues, Moses Lee and Matt Gibson, Founders of Distinguish Me, have a wonderful set of questions they give to students in coming up with an idea for the first time. They are:

  • What do you enjoy searching, learning, reading, or talking about?
  • What piques your interest every time it’s mentioned?
  • What do your friends say you are passionate about?
  • What do your parents or other adults say you are passionate about?
  • Who are some people you admire and why?

Answer these questions for yourself and you will be well on your way to finding your initial passion or interest for further exploration.

But what if you can’t commit to one passion or interest? You say to me, “Dr....

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3 Activities Guaranteed to Impress Admissions Officers

In the last entry, I told you about Mike who started his own peer-review club to help him finish his book, which he published on Amazon.com.

Now I’ll share with you a list of other activities that admissions officers consider to be absolutely outstanding. The important point here is that these activities have NOTHING to do with what’s available at your school. Even if you like your school clubs, trust me, these three things are much more impressive than most opportunities that are available for you at school:

Independent academic research. Outside of your papers for class, this is a research project that may or may not involve co-authorship or supervision by a professor at a university local to your community. Universities love providing opportunities for undergraduates to do research so they absolutely adore when they find out that a student already has experience and inclination toward research. Helpful hint: This activity is not only super impressive, it also can help...

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What to Do When Good Grades Can't Get You In

In the last entry, I asked you about how to identify your contribution. What are you working towards to make your mark? The earlier you do some thinking (and more importantly, acting) on how you will contribute to your school, community, and family, the more impressive you’ll be to college admissions officers.

But it’s not out of the question that you can get started a little later and make a big impact. Take my student, Mike. Mike was a fantastic student academically and his test scores weren’t half bad either. But he was pretty haphazard about how he chose his clubs and activities. Unlike other students, one thing Mike had going for him is that he chose to do things after school that he actually liked—like skateboarding, playing in a band, and sharing stories on his blog—but he hadn’t thought about how to build on these experiences to make a larger impact.

When I first met with Mike, he told me that he wholeheartedly wanted to be a writer. There...

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Why You Need to Build Relationships with College Admissions Officers

I wrote a post on why applicants need to build relationships with college admissions officers and others at the college in order to stand out.

As I write, college admissions is NOT a numbers game, reliant on test scores only. It’s a human connection that provides an opportunity to build awareness about who you are as an applicant and what you have to offer the world. When college admissions officers know who you are, they’re going to be interested in you. They’re going to learn about your values, and assess if YOU can offer a benefit to them by attending their college/university. Students can be part of shaping that conversation by reaching out to admissions officers and professors. If students can talk clearly about what they do and why they’ll do it, they’ll have the opportunity to earn the trust and praise of college admissions officers.

Read more here.

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