Author Archives: David

The Fuzziest Dice

Harvard admits some 3000 students each year. Here’s how William Fitzsimmons, the director of admissions and financial aid, described the process years ago. He asked us—a room full of counselors—to imagine the computer making a mistake. Rather than sending 3000 “yes” letters (“Congratulations. It is with pleasure that the admissions committee welcomes you to the…Read the full article

Come back, Shane!

“No matter where you go, there you are” applies to college students and cowboy movie heroes. Shane, the gunfighter, cannot escape his past. Can college applicants create their own future? Parents’ stress surrounding admissions to highly competitive colleges (hereafter “HCC”) is as misguided as it is unfortunate. Kids who can do stuff–read, write, think–do better…Read the full article

Admissions Scam

“Psst” says the impeccably dressed gentleman at the reception. “I can get your son admitted to Princeton. Guaranteed.” Horrified, yet fascinated, you cannot help but respond: “No one can do that,” you begin. “Princeton routinely rejects 90% of their applicants. They turn down valedictorians with perfect SATs, captains of the football team, students who speak…Read the full article

Computer Games

“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.” — Hunter S. Thompson Children should be allowed to play computer games as often as they are allowed to use morphine—when they are in the hospital and in pain. After an appendectomy, both morphine and computer games can…Read the full article

Helga and the Missing Umlaut

One of my favorite students came to me late in her senior year for some guidance about her admissions essays for college. We had a productive chat. We talked about “show don’t tell” and about “hidden agenda.” I advised her to make her personal statement, well, personal, and to avoid using “plethora,” “esoteric,” and other…Read the full article