Tagged: decision making

Lessons From The College Application Process

Rising seniors are beginning to assemble documentation for their applications, and filling in the Common App which now rolls over for the next application season.   I’ve heard college students lament choices they made at this point in their journey and I’ve read about the lessons others have learned.  Here are a few.

1. Get your priorities straight before you start choosing where to apply.  If you don’t know what you want from a college or the education it offers, you can’t begin to make good decisions.

2. Getting into an ultra-selective college may boost your ego but the actual environment might not be so appealing.  One student was upset to find her friends took free time when she was studying and studied when she wanted to play or sleep.  The constant pressure of exams and projects wore her down, resulting in a 6-week bout with mono.

3. Choose your colleges wisely.  Don’t add some just because Uncle Henry went there, your mom liked the campus, or it has a respected name.  If you don’t like a college or don’t think you’re a good fit, don’t apply because you might be the only one you get into and the one you will attend.

4. Mind your deadlines! Everything must be in on time and there are no do-overs.

5. It isn’t possible to know or understand the variables that each college considers and how the elements are weighted.  If you did, you would still not be able to maximize your use of the application real estate.  Stop worrying about getting everything right on each application.  Do the best you can.  When you click Submit, let it go and enjoy peace of mind.

6. Prepare for disappointment.  No matter how wonderful you are, how bright, thoughtful, charismatic, committed, you are, college admissions decisions can seem random (and maybe they are).

7. Do not prepare for failure.  Getting a “Dear Suzie” letter only means that you weren’t the right person at the right time for that college.  It isn’t a failure.  We humans are good a picking ourselves up and moving on.  I give the same advice for college rejections as I do for dating or not getting the perfect job: Why would you waste time on someone who doesn’t want to be with you, want to hire you, or admit you to their freshman class: step right up to the person, job or college that really wants to have you.  That is the one that deserves you!

Plan your college applications carefully, execute diligently, trust your own judgement.  I’m here to help.  Stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.

Please share with others who may need this information.



How To Choose A Career When You Have Too Many Interests

I really appreciate the conundrum of having to narrow down the things you would like to do to the one that will define your career and put you on a strong professional track.    I feel similarly confused when confronted by a restaurant menu with multiple specials that I want to try.

Julie was frantic about choosing a college major, not because she didn’t know what to study, but because she loved anthropology when she took the intro course. And an English class in pirate literature.  And biochemistry.  Every semester she found a new direction.  Early in her sophomore year Julie went to the career development office for help in deciding.

What her counselor told Julie is that she is preparing for her first job, not the one she will retire from.  Together they looked for threads among the ideas and classes that intrigued her.  From the threads, a few interesting jobs emerged that were researched to learn the work environment, salary range, opportunities to travel and so on.  A path of coursework was laid out that keep Julie’s interest and gave her opportunities for internships.

The career counselor explained that there are vocations (careers or jobs within a career) and avocations (activities and interests to pursue) that aren’t at the moment a means of supporting oneself or family but could become a moneymaker in the future.

Making a choice among possibilities isn’t black/white, either/or.  The choice is what to do first, and what to develop later.  Saying “Yes” to one thing doesn’t mean saying “No” to everything else.

Here are some things to do when the future feels like a maze of possibilities with no way out.

  1. Learn by doing:  get a summer job or an internship in one of the fields that appeals to you.  You may quickly find that you love or hate the work.   A clear example is the cohort of pre-med students who find that they can’t excel in organic chemistry or that there is far more math than expected in the courses.
  2. Make a list of problems you would like to solve.  It could be getting a traffic light at an intersection where there are lots of accidents.  It could be working to provide clean water to areas where it is difficult to come by.  Look for threads, figure out what motivates you to solve each problem.  What are you curious enough about to pursue diligently, to go above an beyond?
  3. Consider how you spend your time now and what you would do if time and money were no object.  How do the above answers apply?
  4. Make a bucket list of all the things you want to do over the long haul.  Read all of Shakespeare’s sonnets? Climb Mt. Everest?  Ride an elephant?  Write an award winning musical?  Get married and have kids?  The longer the list the better.  Divide into Do This Year, Do in Next 5 Years, Do in Next 10 Years, etc.  your lists will help you clarify what you consider important.
  5. College career offices have assessments to help you find out the environment where you will do your best work.  There are online assessments and private counselors who can help you.  MBTI, Strong, Strengths Finder, Birkman and others are some of the assessments can help you narrow the field.

If you’re still on the fence, make an appointment to talk through your interests; we’ll come up with a plan for untangling the web.  stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.



Richard Feynman and Success Strategies

mathematics-physicsRichard Feynman is one of my favorite people.  I never knew him, of course, but I have read of his work.  According to biographers, he was rather a character as well as a formidable professor.

Feynman was a brilliant physicist who worked with great energy and consistency until his death.  It is reported that his last days were spent in a coma.  A few hours before his death, he briefly roused from the coma and said to his wife, “This dying is boring”. Even in a state of unconsciousness his brain was aware and processing.

Most people use strategies to help them organize thoughts and information.  Successful people have mental models that they create or adapt that help them organize more strategically and to find new connections between seemingly random ideas or events.  Warren Buffet’s contribution is the 25/5 Lists and a former president used what is called the Eisenhower Box to make decisions.

College and work are all about finding new ways to do something faster, easier, cheaper or more effectively.  Learn how here: