Each year, we hear parents and students say how they don’t want to make a business of getting into college. And we understand their thinking. What mom wants to be a Tiger Mom? What child wants to have a Tiger Mom? But the reason why that book struck such a chord is because so many moms can indeed relate to Amy Chua. It’s easy to say you don’t want to make a business of getting into college but then how come your twelve year-old daughter has piano lessons every Tuesday and Thursday? How come she does fencing every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday evening? Is she doing these activities because she’s a passionate fencer and pianist or because mommy and daddy think it’ll help her get into colleges five or six years later?
Often times, even if parents won’t own it, it’s the latter. Parents so often deny that their kids are doing activities to help make them stand out as they apply to college but, deep down, it’s often the case. The funny thing is these parents aren’t very keen businessmen because forcing your daughter to fence and take piano lessons is unlikely to differentiate her in the college admissions process. Why’s that? Because forcing your daughter to do an activity probably means your daughter doesn’t much like that activity. And if she doesn’t much like that activity, she probably isn’t all that good at it either. Do you think Bill Gates spent 10,000+ hours (thank you, Malcolm Gladwell) programming because he didn’t like computers? Nope.
Are there ways to better distinguish yourself as you apply to highly selective colleges? You bet — and we certainly help a whole lot with that for our students. But colleges want uniquely talented students. They don’t want the kid who was forced to take piano lessons. They don’t want the kid who was forced to fence. College admissions counselors can see right through that. Give them the benefit of the doubt and rework your business strategy of getting into college. Because it’s not working!
Check out this “Peterson’s” article that we wrote on Talented Students and Getting Into College.