The Importance of Being Likable in College Admissions

Likable in Admissions, Likable in Ivy League Admissions, Likability in Admission

It’s important to be likable in highly selective college admissions (photo credit: Sach1tb).

A line we hear from time to time during free consultations with prospective clients in which we answer questions about our service offerings goes something like this: “We’re looking for a college consultant with connections to highly selective colleges…” We cut these folks off right there and — if anyone knows us — not so gently inform them that they’ve come to the wrong place. We hire folks who’ve worked in the admissions offices of highly selective colleges. Read an article on highly selective college admissions in a major newspaper and there’s a good chance we’re in it. We’ve been helping students earn admission to highly selective colleges for over a quarter of a century. Are we connected to the zeitgeist? Yes. Are we plugged in to what works and what doesn’t in the college admissions process? You bet. But connections? …These people just don’t get it. Not one bit.

We Help Make Our Students Likable

As we have articulated so many times over the years on the pages of our college admissions blog, good private college counselors work behind the scenes. They don’t liaise with colleges admissions officers or development officers…or anyone for that matter except the parent(s) and student. If they suggest they do liaise with others, we suggest you run, run fast, and run for those hills. You see, when a private college counselor has done his or her job well, the admissions officer doesn’t think the student had any help whatsoever. As our regular readers know all too well, our primary objective is to inspire admissions officers to want to root for our students, to champion them, to make a case for them in the event their file has gone to committee. We dare admissions officers not to admit our students who are going to change the world in their own unique and wonderfully weird ways. That is always our task.

We Help Make Our Students the Opposite of Fancy Schmancy

In order to want to root for a student, that student has to present as likable to admissions officers. Each and every one of our students presents as bizarrely unique and each and every one of them presents as likable. It is the one through-line. So when these folks who call in for free consults ask if we’ll liaise with college admissions officers or development officers (or even high school counselors!), what they’re missing is that would defeat all of our good work. If a college admissions officer knew that a student had help (and paid a fee for that help), it would undercut that student’s case for admission. Remember, college admissions officers don’t make a ton of money. They would be more inclined to resent a kid who had help navigating the admissions process than they would be inclined to champion that student. The mark of a good private college counselor is no discernible mark at all that a student had help in the eyes of an admissions officer.

In addition to staying completely behind the scenes and not interfacing with any of these folks (why would you want your son’s high school counselor — who is writing his recommendation to think you don’t have faith in his or her work?), we help render our students likable in lots of other ways, too. As just a taste, our students don’t participate in fancy summer enrichment programs, including ones that cost over $10,000. We are among the most vocal opponents of such programs. Our students don’t write about traveling the world. Our students don’t name drop in college essays. Our students don’t use big words when simple words will do — and they write colloquially in absolute defiance of their high school English teachers. Our students would be more likely to work summer jobs than attend the Duke TIP program. Sorry, Duke. Our students don’t play squash or water polo if we have anything to say about it — unless of course they’re getting recruited for these sports. These sports are fancy schmancy. Our students at Ivy Coach aren’t fancy schmancy — not in admissions.

Have a question about the importance of being likable in the college admissions process? Concerned your child won’t present as likable? Share your questions, your thoughts, your musings, and obviously your favorite cereal too by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you.


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