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Thanks again for taking the time to meet with us on Saturday, and thanks for the awesome T-shirt." Now, the word awesome, is that the most common word that parents use to imitate their kids?
All across the country this month college freshmen are starting their new lives at their new schools. Act one, "The Old College Try." So here at our radio show, we went looking for a college admissions officer who would tell us the most misguided things that people do when they're applying to schools.
And it is so hard to get into so many schools these days. And the students who did get in, the students who made it here, they still wonder how they did it. I remember I was completely clueless when it came to applying to college-- what to do to get in, what to say on the essays to convince them that I was worthy of their schools. And we found Rick Clark, who's director of undergraduate admissions at the Georgia Institute of Technology, better known as Georgia Tech.
We flew down to somewhere in Central America, and we got off the plane. And then over the course of my time there, I went expecting to help others, but it was, in fact, me who was changed.
And even just when you first start reading that essay, you're like, oh, here it comes again. Rick estimates that only one out of every 20 or so essays that he reads is any good at all, that is, 19 bad ones if you're counting at home.
"Would you please tell me how to prepare him for admission?
He will be an Eagle Scout by then and wants to go to the best school.He was in seventh grade in New Orleans, trying to avoid reading them. Downer, asked us to write a book report on a novel called Johnny Tremain. And I noticed on the back-- there was this great book report with the book, and it was just on the back of the book. And I just copied it out and handed it in and [INAUDIBLE] with it. Of course, this is our "How I Got Into College" show, so this is the story of how one guy, named Emir Kamenica, got into college, but it's also an illustration of this other thing.I think if I were telling you Emir's story, I'd probably just start at the very beginning, how he was born in Bosnia in 1978, how he grew up in Sarajevo with loving parents and a happy family.Well, the age-old one that, I mean, again, pretty much anybody that you would interview who's been in college admission for any period of time would be-- you know, we just call it now the "mission trip" essay.And great to go on a mission trip, great to have a cultural experience, but inevitably the way it reads is so predictable. And 20 miles outside of the village, our bus broke down, but we got picked up by a chicken truck and taken into town.I mean, this was just the last two months worth of mail, and it had to be two feet tall. And if this is the way they just want to show me that it's supposed to be harder work to plagiarize, that was it.[LAUGHTER] Well, I think it rhymes with sort of my worldview and the general sense that authority is often absurd, a general sense that punishments often don't fit crimes, a general sense that often things that are supposed to be wrong don't actually feel wrong, and maybe they aren't as wrong as people say.And opening those up, I mean, they do start to just-- you put your hand over the name of the school, and it could be any place. Nobody puts dead squirrels on the front of their college brochure. His books, Moneyball, The Blind Side, and The Big Short were made into movies. You know, we all have certain stories from our childhoods that we trot out from time to time, out of all the thousands of things that ever happened to us.About 15 minutes in, she started using "she" instead of "I," even saying, what if she-- I mean, I wanted to list more activities on the application?Rick Clark says that one thing that has amped this up, all the parents getting in touch, is that lots of schools take into account whether a student shows something called demonstrated interest in their college, meaning, did they show up on campus?But ironically, I really almost never, in fact, see that in an email from a high school student.I actually just did hear from one of my staff members who said they talked to a mom the other day who clearly was trying to sound like her 17-year-old daughter, not so much in the language she was using, but masking her voice.