“The Washington Post” has a cute article entitled “‘The greatest line I never said’ – from college admissions counselors” by Valerie Strauss that we figured we’d share with our loyal readers. In the article, Strauss shares a fun email conversation from the NACAC listserv — a listserv that many folks in the college admissions community are a part of (including us at Ivy Coach). Each and every year, college admissions counselors, school counselors, and private college counselors are confronted with situations in which they wish they could just tell a student or parent the truth rather than sugarcoat it for them. If you’ve ever read any of our blogs — heck if you know anything about our company — you know that we stand firmly against sugarcoating. We prefer instead to be unapologetically honest.
So when a student writes an essay that could be mistaken for the essay of a fourth grader writing an essay with a crayon, we’ll tell him as much. When a student with straight ‘C’s’ thinks she can get into Duke, we’ll tell her that unless she’s the progeny of Melinda Gates herself, she is as likely to get into Duke as Coach K is to become an Olympic figure skater. With his hip, it’s just not happening. When a student tells us that he’s the best swimmer at his school and that every college will want him, we’ll look at his times and give him a reality check that his times — while they might be good at his high school — aren’t fast enough to pass a local lifeguarding test much less swim Division 1.
Anyhow, here’s what some folks on the listserv had to share with the college admissions community. These are lines they wish they could have said: “I was reminded of an interaction with a student…She told me that she was interested in applying to Dartmouth. I looked at her challenging transcript and I was SO tempted to say: If an asteroid strikes the earth and kills every teenager but you, you MIGHT make the wait list.” And there’s this: “To quote the great Judge Smails from Caddyshack, the line that always goes through my head is, ‘Well, the world needs ditch-diggers, too.'” And this: “My favorite unsaid line to a student with low scores and low science grades who planned on being a neurosurgeon: ‘I can guarantee you’ll never be my neurosurgeon.'” Or this: “The one thing I want to say to my in-a-hurry seniors who fill out transcript request forms quickly without attention to detail is, ‘Aww honey if you can’t spell the name of college correctly, you probably shouldn’t apply there.'”
If you’re in the college admissions community, what line do you wish you could have said? Why not just say it? We do! It’s a college admission reality check. And it can’t hurt.