Earlier this week, one of our Application Nation moms whose son was admitted Early Decision to Duke shared an article from the university's student newspaper titled, "Duke Received More Than 41,000 Applications This Year." She pulled out the most salient point of the article for all of us to consider. As I read the quote and the article itself, I was reminded that we sometimes get so caught up in the competitive nature of our society, that we don't take enough time to work on ourselves as individuals.
The quote our Application Nation mom shared came from Duke's longstanding dean of admissions, Christoph Guttentag. He described what a successful applicant is in their eyes: "...one that not only has outstanding academic credentials, but is also interesting, intellectual and invested in making an impact."
He went on to say the most sobering point of all: "We have the luxury of choosing the interesting students from among the smart ones."
So much of the work that I do with private clients and the Application Nation families is helping them uncover the most fundamentally pure and interesting pieces to their stories. Most of the kids I work with have buried these aspects of their life farther and farther down a deep, dark hole and replaced them with the most common activities, experiences, and academic pursuits. I ask them questions about those very things that they either don't talk about or they believe are the exact opposite of "interesting." I appreciate that despite my very random questions that I ask them—like how their parents met or what they do when no one is looking or the story behind a photograph in their living room—they almost always answer and share things with me that no one knows.
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