What Were You Least Prepared For At An Ivy?

From Quora

What Were You Least Prepared For When You Entered An Ivy League School

Answered by Wes Lai, retired teacher of 34 years

“I did not attend an Ivy League school. My son did, and he graduated #1 in his class of 480 at a public high school. The one thing he said that blew him away was how students from private prep and boarding schools were so well prepared for college. The other thing was how everybody was just as smart as he was, or smarter. Culture shock.”

This answer explains why admission to Tier One colleges is competitive.  The outstanding student in any high school is just average in the pool of applicants to selective colleges.  All of the candidates have stellar grades in a rigorous curriculum.  Most will have nearly perfect scores.  Admission depends on the interests, passions and accomplishments outside of school.   Overcoming challenges, solving real world problems, and having done something that benefits others gain traction in the admissions office.

Lai’s response highlights the epidemic of depression and anxiety experienced on college campuses.  Discovering that you aren’t the smartest person in the room when your parents, teachers and accomplishments have told you just that, is difficult for many students to accept.  They believe that less than perfect grades or not having the answer to a difficult question shows them to be  weak and failing.

As parents, we need to emphasize that the quest is more important than the badge of achievement.  A goal should be to grow, become better at the tasks we undertake, to focus our  education on how to use knowledge and experience to help others. Most of all we need to treat failure as a part of moving forward: it teaches persistence, humility and spurs determination.  Sometimes it opens doors to new thinking.

As I’ve told countless students,  when you get to college you will meet people who have had different experiences than you have, learned bits of information that diverge from what you are familiar with,  connect the dots in a different pattern.  That doesn’t make one of you smarter or a better student: its another opportunity to apply critical thinking.

When you’re ready to talk about a college list, or ways in which college might surprise you, I’ll be waiting to hear from you. stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.

 

 

Leaving? Keep It Classy

How honest should you be in your exit interview about your reasons for leaving?

Ian Mathews, Real Estate Investor and former Senior Executive (2018-present)

Answered Wed

“This place is poisoned. The managers don’t care about employees. You are running a sweat shop. You don’t pay anywhere close to market and some of your policies are so anti-customer that it is clear that corporate only cares about profits. You only promote politicians and yes men.”

I’ve seen this bitter approach from more than a few employees on their way out the door. They leave with their chest puffed out, feeling good that they gave us a piece of their mind.

Most managers do want feedback on your way out the door and it is usually best at the skip level (your boss’s boss). The problem with the personal attack approach is that it comes across as bitter and the feedback lingers. Inevitably, the exiting person runs through a few more companies and with perspective, realizes it wasn’t so bad. In fact, the pay wasn’t better, the atmosphere more negative and workload was heavier at other companies. Then comes the email:

Hello Ian,

I hope all is well with you and your company. I was laid off last month and have come to realize what a great opportunity I had. I made a mistake in leaving your company and would love it if you could give me another chance.

Sincerely,

Formerly Disgruntled Employee

How many of these emails do you think I responded to when they took the personal attack approach on the way out the door? Correct, zero.

In the last two months, three different former employees have called me and asked if I would put in a good word for them. They wanted to come back to my

old company and wanted me to vouch for them to the executive who replaced me. I did no such thing with two of them, as I remember how they tore out of the place. Two of them blasted the company on Glassdoor, a move meant to hurt the company’s future hiring. I wasn’t putting my word on people who went that route already, given that the odds are higher that they will do it again.

This is a small world and even smaller when you figure that most people stay in the same industry for most of their careers. Even if you are 100% certain you don’t want to return to that company, you gain nothing by going scorched Earth on the way out the door.

What if one of those same managers that you scorched is hired into your new company in a position of authority, even your direct boss? I’ve seen this more than a few times.

Take the approach I mentioned above and eliminate the personal. You could still say this, while being honest and helping the company improve:

“I just can’t find the balance here between work and personal life. I also have a chance to make a serious jump in pay, which is very important to my family right now. I have learned much from this company and appreciate that you took a chance on me. I hope we stay in touch.”

As a manager, I get the point with this feedback. We need a different staffing model and need to look into our compensation program. In almost every case, I knew our problems but just couldn’t make changes fast enough to help the front lines. Managers don’t like running short staffed which can happen in a hot market or overly competitive market where income is rising rapidly.

Anything else you share is probably just going to sound bitter and make that manager defensive. With the positive approach, I remember you in a good light years down the road and you’ve left the door open. You also earned a positive reference from me should a future prospective employer call me to ask about you (and most of them will).

So, pass on the short term opportunity to stick it to your company on the way out the door. It won’t encourage the company to change and the only person who can get hurt is yourself.

Keep it classy.

15 Vital Leadership Lessons

Rather than tweet the link to this article from LinkedIn, I’m putting it in a blog post so that more readers will be able to access the information.

You’ll find that Bernard Marr has created a list that modernizes the ingredients of Everything I Needed To Know I learned in Kindergarten and formulated a list applicable to everyone who works, volunteers or hopes to do either.

Enjoy and make sure this shoe fits well enough to wear it.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/15-vital-leadership-lessons-anyone-who-wants-great-leader-marr/?trk=eml-email

Interview Questions For Your Potential Boss

To be a credible candidate for a job you must ask questions at the interview.  Sometimes the interviewer would be your boss and that can be intimidating.  However, its also an opportunity to learn more about how she or he leads.  Asking the right questions can give you insight into what your work life would be like if you accepted this position.

Here’s a copy of an article from The Muse

10 Questions to Ask in Your Next Job Interview to Avoid (Another) Toxic Boss

by Alyse Kalish

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re finally getting out of an unhealthy work environment. Good for you! You deserve to work with someone who treats you well.

That said, you certainly don’t want to make the same mistake again and end up working under someone who’s just as bad (or worse) than the last manager you had. As you’re job searching, make sure you ask these 10 crucial interview questions to get to the bottom of what it would be like to report to your potential new boss.

If the Interviewer Is Your Potential Boss

1. How Would You Describe Your Ideal Employee?

Whatever they say, take it to heart and make sure you genuinely fit into what they’re looking for—if you don’t, that’s a giveaway you won’t get along or enjoy working with them.

2. How Do You Like to Give Constructive Criticism?

Make sure they actually do give their team feedback (you don’t want to work somewhere where you’ll never learn and improve) but also express care and concern when doing so.

The point of giving it is not only to help make their job easier (less oversight needed), but also to help you grow. So if they respond with, “Calling people out in front of the whole company to teach them a lesson?” Definitely a red flag.

3. What’s the Process for Reviewing and Evaluating Employees?

Related to the one above: Is there a proper employee review cycle in place? Does it seem like they regularly evaluate and course-correct employee performance? And, do they seem to care about helping employees set and achieve their career goals?

4. How Long Has Your Current Team Been in Place?

Search their answer for any signs of high turnover or conflict. Were there legitimate reasons why their team has shifted? Do they avoid bringing up specifics?

5. How Would Your Direct Reports Describe Your Management Style?

This is a self-awareness test for your interviewer. They should be able to show that their direct reports feel properly managed without sounding egotistical or disengaged.

6. Who Are Your Leadership Role Models?

And ask them why they chose those people—this gives you a sense of what leadership tactics they respect and want to emulate.

7. How Does Your Team Unwind After a Stressful Period or Celebrate a Success?

This is a great way to get a sense of how they value work-life balance and how they acknowledge their team’s accomplishments. They should have some response to this.

If the Interviewer Works With Your Potential Boss

8. What’s [Boss’ Name]’s Management Style Like?

Look for hidden clues here. Do they sound supportive but not a micromanager? Respectful but motivating? And, does the person you’re speaking with seem to like their management style?

9. What’s Your Favorite Part of Working With [Boss’ Name]?

Do they brag about how awesome it is to work with so-and-so, or is their response vague and unimpressive? Take note.

10. How Would You Describe the Team Culture?

Some things you might look out for include how people work together and communicate, how your potential boss is involved in that culture, and how people get along both inside and outside the office.

Two other factors come into play here.

One is body language and nonverbal cues—pay attention to how people respond to your questions and if they seem turned off by them. A long pause can say wonders.

And the other is your own standards and values. I could easily say that X or Y response is a definite no, but at the end of the day everyone is looking for a different kind of work environment and manager.

So, before you enter any interview, make sure you’re clear on what you want in a boss so you can properly assess whether the person you’re interviewing fits the mold. If you’re not sure, think about what qualities you admire in other leaders, past bosses, and mentors (and which ones you don’t).

Finally, if you do smell something fishy during your interview process, consider reaching out to former employees or people in your network who work with or know of this person and ask for their off-the-record opinion.

It can feel awkward, but remember: You’ll have to work with this person every day, five days a week. So the more you know, the more informed your decision will be.

Lets talk about company culture and create a list of questions to ask about the job when the interviewer is from HR.  610-212-6679 or stephanie@accessguidance.com

How Can I Stand Out On An Ivy Application?

Cindy Greatrex
Cindy Greatrex, Associate Medical Officer

A friend of mine was in Admissions at Columbia for many years and had some good advice. So I assume you have the baseline excellent grades and test scores. But how to stand out? Look at what is missing at the school.

My friend said she read through thousands of applications every year where the applicant was a violinist. Problem? Orchestras need only so many violinists. What was desperately needed was a French horn player. Orchestral music scores almost always have the French horn. But she almost never received an application from a French horn player!

Sane is true for Fencing and Squash. Ivies tend to need more fencers and squash players than they have applications from.

Also look at niche majors. Cornell has a fantastic Forestry major but not a ton of Applicants.

Lastly look at what you can Create. Ivies look fondly on inventions, trademarks, patents, something that you felt passionate about and created. The Ivies get tons of Applications from people who worked with the homeless, or in a clinic, or in a food pantry, or off to Africa for the summer to assist in vaccination programs. All outstanding things, obviously.

But show Admissions what you Created, not just what you Joined.

Readers: this advice is solid and highlights one of the difficulties in gaining admission to selective colleges: qualified applicants are a dime a dozen but finding the few who have something unusual is difficult.  Fill a niche and you increase the chances of success.  Lets talk about your unique opportunities. stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.

MIT Offers Digital Diplomas

For a long time it has been possible to earn a degree in a field of technology that leads to a well-paying, ever-changing job. Block-chain technology is now making it possible for workers and college graduates to demonstrate their experience and credentials.

As long ago as 4000 years, merchants in the middle east created small mud or clay blocks inscribed with the details of a transaction.  When the transaction was complete, goods delivered and both sides were satisfied, the tiny tablet was cracked or broken to signify the end of the contract.

Modern education uses something similar, a digital badge, to show that a student has accomplished specific tasks, acquiring proficiency.  Some colleges and institutions of higher learning attach the badges to certificates issued to students.

MIT has come up with a way to use block-chain to record education details in the same manner as  ancient businesses recorded transactions.  Block-chain records are harnessed together to create digital documentation of a degree earned.

Here’s a link to the article from Inside Higher Ed:

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/10/19/mit-introduces-digital-diplomas?utm_source=Inside+Higher+Ed&utm_campaign=5e051f02d8-DNU20171019&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1fcbc04421-5e051f02d8-198164661&mc_cid=5e051f02d8&mc_eid=6b286e8797

Where Hiring Managers Look For Candidates

Alan Carniol   Hidden Job Market

 

When hiring managers have an opening to fill they use these sources to find the right candidate.

  1. First Choice They hire someone they’ve already worked with, a subordinate or a colleague, or someone they worked with at a different company.

If they don’t find someone …

  1. Second Choice Reach out to someone who comes recommended by a friend or a trusted colleague/advisor they trust implicitly.

Then if they don’t find someone, they….

  1. Third Choice Hit up referrals given from a weaker connection-like a subordinate, or a friend, or someone in their network-where they can see some evidence of their past performance (like LinkedIn)

Then, if they don’t find someone…

  1. Fourth Choice   Maybe if they are lucky, a stranger will show up at the right time and the right place )e.g., a networking event, or reach out to them cold) and will quickly inspire trust and create a relationship.

Finally, if none of the other four avenues yield a solid candidate:

  1. Fifth Choice They’ll have HR post the job on websites and run ads in newspapers.  HR takes over from this point and screens all the candidates for interview.

 

This is how it works behind closed doors.

Choices 1-4 are the “hidden” jobs market.  Only the fifth option is in the public jobs forum.

Thanks, Alan.  Now that you know how HR finds candidates, you can see that networking is the best way to be in the right place at the moment a job opens up.  Lets formulate your networking plan so that you are top-of-mind when HR starts thinking about who to hire. stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679

 

 

 

It Takes 4 Minutes To Read Your College Application

From the Huffington Post

It Takes Four Minutes to Review What You’ve Done in Four Years

Sara Harberson 3/24/17

Four minutes. Four years. Oh, the irony and the sobering reality of modern day elite college admissions.

There used to be so much secrecy surrounding how admissions officers read college applications and how much time they spent on each application. Not anymore. The University of Pennsylvania Undergraduate Admissions Office recently revealed in an article for The Chronicle of Higher Education that it takes their staff a mere four minutes to read one application.

When I worked in that same office, it took me five or six times as long to initially read an application. That didn’t include the unaccounted time I spent re-reading, preparing, and meticulously going over each application for the selection committee. Back then, the reading and selection process moved swiftly. Fast forward to today, and Penn’s new reading and selection process moves at warp speed.

Penn officials say they needed to come up with a more sustainable model to handle the volume of applications they receive. Now, a team of two admissions officers reads a student’s application side-by-side. One person reviews the academic criteria (transcript, test scores, and recommendations), while the other person “reads” through the rest of the application (extracurricular involvement, essays, and interview report).

Within the four-minute period of time allotted, the two staff members make a recommendation on the admissions decision: ADMIT, WAITLIST/DEFER, DENY. And, then they move on to the next application.

Penn is not the only college doing this. Swarthmore, Emory, The California Institute of Technology, and Pomona College have all streamlined their reading and selection processes. I predict there will be more colleges to follow. This needs to be viewed as the new “normal” when applying to elite colleges.

How has it gotten to this point? The answer lies in the economics. All colleges want more applications and the lowest admit rate possible. But they do not want to enlist more admissions officers—that would be very expensive. So the only way a college can pull off reading tens of thousands of applications is to significantly reduce the amount of time they spend considering each student.

At least we know the truth. And knowledge is the ultimate power. Students should approach this process understanding that their very best self needs to be represented in the most succinct and powerful way in their application. Those four minutes should be the best four minutes of an admissions officers’ day.

Here are five ways to do that:

  1. Sync your objective measures to match the school you want to go to. Make sure your curriculum, grades, and test scores measure up with the profile of the admitted pool of students at the college. The objective pieces of the application need to be competitive for everything else in the application to matter.
  2. Strike gold with your recommendation letters. Every person writing a letter for you should know who you are, what you offer, and how the school community has been influenced by you. If the teacher or counselor writing for you sees you as a once-in-a-career student, the letter they write for you will reflect that.
  3. Optimize your extracurricular self. Find something so important to you and devote every chance you get to developing the idea, passion, or ability to its highest possible level. Significant impact on one extracurricular activity is much more powerful than a long list of “involvement” with little or no impact.
  4. Soul search for your college essay. This will lead you to choosing the best topic for your main college essay. If the things that you write down could be written by anyone, cross them off the list. Your essay should be one-of-a-kind.
  5. Crush the college supplement. The supplement for elite colleges usually separates the “competitive students” from the “admitted students.” The essays on the supplement should have the same high quality craftsmanship as everything else in the application.

Today’s admissions officers have extraordinarily less time to consider the nuances and details of a student’s college application. This new approach forces students to think more succinctly about who they are and how they want to present themselves in an application. The new mantra for the applying student needs to be seize the moment; that’s all the time you get.

Four minutes. Four years. Oh, the irony and the sobering reality of modern day elite college admissions.

There used to be so much secrecy surrounding how admissions officers read college applications and how much time they spent on each application. Not anymore. The University of Pennsylvania Undergraduate Admissions Office recently revealed in an article for The Chronicle of Higher Education that it takes their staff a mere four minutes to read one application.

When I worked in that same office, it took me five or six times as long to initially read an application. That didn’t include the unaccounted time I spent re-reading, preparing, and meticulously going over each application for the selection committee. Back then, the reading and selection process moved swiftly. Fast forward to today, and Penn’s new reading and selection process moves at warp speed.

Penn officials say they needed to come up with a more sustainable model to handle the volume of applications they receive. Now, a team of two admissions officers reads a student’s application side-by-side. One person reviews the academic criteria (transcript, test scores, and recommendations), while the other person “reads” through the rest of the application (extracurricular involvement, essays, and interview report).

Within the four-minute period of time allotted, the two staff members make a recommendation on the admissions decision: ADMIT, WAITLIST/DEFER, DENY. And, then they move on to the next application.

Penn is not the only college doing this. Swarthmore, Emory, The California Institute of Technology, and Pomona College have all streamlined their reading and selection processes. I predict there will be more colleges to follow. This needs to be viewed as the new “normal” when applying to elite colleges.

How has it gotten to this point? The answer lies in the economics. All colleges want more applications and the lowest admit rate possible. But they do not want to enlist more admissions officers—that would be very expensive. So the only way a college can pull off reading tens of thousands of applications is to significantly reduce the amount of time they spend considering each student.

At least we know the truth. And knowledge is the ultimate power. Students should approach this process understanding that their very best self needs to be represented in the most succinct and powerful way in their application. Those four minutes should be the best four minutes of an admissions officers’ day.

Here are five ways to do that:

  1. Sync your objective measures to match the school you want to go to. Make sure your curriculum, grades, and test scores measure up with the profile of the admitted pool of students at the college. The objective pieces of the application need to be competitive for everything else in the application to matter.
  2. Strike gold with your recommendation letters. Every person writing a letter for you should know who you are, what you offer, and how the school community has been influenced by you. If the teacher or counselor writing for you sees you as a once-in-a-career student, the letter they write for you will reflect that.
  3. Optimize your extracurricular self. Find something so important to you and devote every chance you get to developing the idea, passion, or ability to its highest possible level. Significant impact on one extracurricular activity is much more powerful than a long list of “involvement” with little or no impact.
  4. Soul search for your college essay. This will lead you to choosing the best topic for your main college essay. If the things that you write down could be written by anyone, cross them off the list. Your essay should be one-of-a-kind.
  5. Crush the college supplement. The supplement for elite colleges usually separates the “competitive students” from the “admitted students.” The essays on the supplement should have the same high quality craftsmanship as everything else in the application.

Today’s admissions officers have extraordinarily less time to consider the nuances and details of a student’s college application. This new approach forces students to think more succinctly about who they are and how they want to present themselves in an application. The new mantra for the applying student needs to be seize the moment; that’s all the time you get.

Increasingly, competition for college admission is making it difficult to predict where a student will gain the the coveted “Yes!”.    Every section of each application must be carefully curated with targeted information.  I’m here to help you develop the application that will stand out from the pack.  stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-12-6679

Hiram College Changes Face of Liberal Arts

Liberal Arts has been lost favor with parents as an educational direction in the belief that a 1:1  concordance between major and career has better outcomes.   Employers, on the other hand, find the skills learned studying a subject that falls in one or more of the departments in a College of Arts and Sciences.

Hiram College (Hiram, Ohio) has begun a reorganization of its liberal arts offerings into 5 colleges with interdisciplinary majors and a strong experiential component.  Other colleges have made changes in similar directions.  Read more in this article from Inside Higher Ed.

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2018/05/02/ohios-hiram-college-puts-new-liberal-arts-test?utm_source=Inside+Higher+Ed&utm_campaign=814410acc2-DNU20180111&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1fcbc04421-814410acc2-198164661&mc_cid=814410acc2&mc_eid=6b286e8797

Want to know more about how to match what you learn as a liberal arts major to employer expectations?  Lets begin a conversation. stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679

 

Contextualizing Tech Now Reads Resumes

When you submit your resume the first reader is often a computer.  You already know that to get past this technology gate you need to include keywords that show you have the experience that matches the requirements of the position.  Generation Next in applicant tracking systems is  technology that looks for keywords but also looks at the context in which they are used.  You’ll be more successful if you follow these suggestions for placing keywords.

Starting at the top of your resume, in the introduction (summary), use a few bullets that include 3-5 of the keywords you’ve identified for this position.

In your experience section, highlight your achievements using the keywords.  Use keywords again when you list recent training or skill updating.

You can help the ATS identify the keywords by using an easily read font such as Arial.  Keep the resume format simple to enable the computer to “see” all that you have written.  Eventually, a human will look at your resume, most likely on a device, so make all of your information easy for the eye to locate.

What type of file should be used?  PDF is safe, is readable across devices and can be faxed.

All of this sounds pretty cut and dried.  Don’t forget to include your excitement about the job, your passion for exceeding expectations, your unique human qualities.