Why You Need a (Great!) College and Graduate Educational Consultant

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A great educational consultant doesn’t do the work for you. He (or she) pushes you—like a tough athletic coach—to go from good to GREAT in all aspects of your candidacy.

Lebron James has undeniable natural talent. He couldn’t be less than “good” at basketball if he shot the ball from his couch with his other hand wrapped around a Pringles tube. But if you want to be Major League, you need someone outside your own mind and body to push you to a new level.

Sammy’s application to MIT Sloan’s MBA program is an excellent example. I enjoyed Sammy’s optional personal expression essay. It was clever, well-produced, and bold. And yet it was missing something crucial.

MIT Sloan’s optional essay allows the applicant to create something original, something that reveals his or her personality.  Sammy made a video, a clever takeoff of Apple’s “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC” commercials, explaining that he was no typical finance guy in the way that Macs aren’t typical computers. In making good points about who Sammy is, it did exactly what that essay is supposed to do, no more and no less.  AND THAT WAS THE WHOLE PROBLEM.

At Forster-Thomas, we refer to the upper echelon of elite schools as the Major Leagues of Admissions—Harvard College, Columbia Medical School, Haas B-School, Stanford Law, USC Film.  We do that for a reason.  It takes something special to make it to the major leagues.  Talent is a given.  Most people applying to those schools have talent.  Effort matters—a lot—but not all effort is created equal.  Some effort is wasted on things that don’t count.  That’s why major leaguers need COACHES.  You know, that guy on the sidelines in a suit or uniform (or in the case of Bill Belichick, a grungy hoodie) screaming at you to slide or bunt or whatever it is you do in baseball.  You need someone to take your clever essay ideas, your interesting interview responses and your competent resume from “effective” and “polished” to “authentic” and “compelling.”

In Sammy’s case, his optional personal expression essay was missing that one, teeny-tiny, indispensable ingredient: HEART. While the Forster-Thomas crew enjoyed and nodded at the video when we saw it, a day later, none of us could recall a thing about Sammy—other than the fact that he’s not a PC.  And that is a BIG, BIG problem. If I don’t remember Sammy, neither will the adcoms.

While Sammy had worked with us on his applications to other schools, he did MIT Sloan on his own.  Imagine if he had had someone there to push him, to make him sweat the small stuff.  Imagine, if instead of a perfect Mac, we saw a guy who showed off two amazing things about himself like his academic ability and a great club he led. And then imagine Sammy stops. He looks down, and then back up at the camera and says, “Wait. I don’t wanna put anyone else down—not PC or anyone.” And then he reveals something not so great—like his struggle organizing thoughts, a truth about his insecurity about transitioning from law to business. And then he asks MIT for help giving him the life his really wants. And maybe he cuts to this part when he’s “backstage,” setting everything up. See?  It not only takes it past the clever “Mac/PC” commercial, but it humanizes him. Now MIT doesn’t just like Sammy. MIT remembers Sammy. We all do.

That’s what a strong, experienced, savvy educational consultant does. He or she takes you from D-League to Major League—by helping you find and express your HEART, not just your resume.  Odds are, Sammy considered doing something personal and warm—but rejected the idea. Without someone to give him permission to get real, he backed off because admissions is scary. The more your put yourself on the line, the harder it is if you get rejected.

You may be Superman, but you have Kryptonite buried somewhere in your candidacy, and it will suck all the power out of it if you let it.  We all have a blind spot—you, me, everybody.  We all need a coach to be great.

I have a confession to make: I have a bit of an ego.  That is why it is extra hard for me to admit what I’m about to admit: I’m not a Mac.  I’m not slick, or polished.  I wake up every day and ask myself, “Was I a phony yesterday? Does anyone really care what I have to say today?”
That fear is not “slick” or “polished”—it’s just the truth.  My media consultant, Hank, otherwise known as my personal pain-in-the ass, is my secret weapon that never lets me merely be good. He helps me be great. That’s why I hire him.  And that’s why you should hire us, or another educational consultant that is the right fit for your personality and needs.

You worked hard to give yourself a shot at a top program or school.  Why settle for second best in your candidacy and your applications, the final and most telling stage of the entire process?  That’s why you need a GREAT educational consultant.  The good news is, I have a couple suggestions about where to start looking.  HECA, IECA … I’m looking at you!

—Auntie Evan

BEING A MAN IN A GIRL POWER WORLD

SHOW DATE: DECEMBER 18, 2013

Last week, Beyoncé got the world in an uproar by releasing her new album. She did it without any marketing, any fanfare or any promotions on iTunes. The ballsy move has redefined the music world and launched a thousand round table discussions about girl power. Everybody is dissecting girl power.

Somebody on the Melissa Harris-Perry’s show said that it launched a thousand women’s studies papers. We saw the show. All the women were high-fiving each other while the male pundits just sat there.

All these guys are thinking is, “I have to check myself now, make sure I don’t say something so offensive it gets me in trouble.”

We’re all about woman at Job Talk.  Girl power is awesome, but that’s last week’s expression. Women have been victims of prejudice for hundreds of years. We get it. We’re not denying that.

What’s happening in offices is that men are scared to talk freely in front of women. We’re not doing the, “Oh, poor men” bit here. The bottom line is, men feel scared and emasculated. Of course, women should not change the way they operate to keep men from being held back and anxious. Here’s an example of our point:

A month ago, Auntie Evan was sitting in a meeting in a school where his organization helps get underprivileged kids into college. It was Auntie Evan and eight women around the table. Normally, Auntie Evan is highly integrated in this sort of settings. They’re all brainstorming how to make a better college-bound program, and Auntie Evan is jumping in with all these ideas. And then someone says: “Evan, calm down, let other people speak, you’re overdoing it.” Auntie Evan wasn’t not calm, he was just passionate. So he watched all the women brainstorm as he sat shut out.

And when Auntie Evan saw the Melissa Harris-Perry show, he felt the same way. He felt that if he or any of the guys on the show would open his mouth, they’d get in trouble or get shut down.

We acknowledge the power of women and their ability to be heard. But the way this conversation is going now, the victim is victimizing. This is hard to deny and it is what it is. Girls should not minimize themselves so the “poor, little boys” can have their egos built up. That’s ridiculous, and this is not what we’re saying.

We’re saying we need to start a new conversation, and get powerful in a wholly different way. Men and women see the world differently. Women believe in growing the pie: they can get more power and men can keep having power. But men see the world in zero sum: when something gets added, something else must get taken away. Thus men feel diminished.

But there is a way to lift this layer of binarism and have people power. We’re going to tell you how to be heard as a man, how to get promoted without offending, and how to live in a woman’s world.

Usually, there are two ways men go when they’re in a female-dominated office with a female boss: they wither get angry and bitter and tell themselves that she got to that position just because she’s a woman, or they have the male wimp syndrome and are afraid to say anything. Neither of these will get you promoted. You don’t have to be the angry guy or the wimpy guy.

There are a few things guys can do to keep their part of the power and be a man in a woman’s world. It’s not an us or them situation anymore. It is not a zero sum game were if they win you lose, where the winner takes all. This goes for both sides. Here are a few steps to reach a people power threshold:

  • Stop the winner-takes-all mentality and start thinking in the team-takes-all mindset. The rising tide causes all boats to rise. Consider the team and how to make it better. When you do this, you’ll be noticed as the go-to person. A female boss will be looking at a male job candidate to see if he’s team oriented and not just looking out for himself. (Any boss is looking for this quality.)
  • Be solution oriented. Don’t just talk about the problems. There’s paint chipping on the wall, what do most people do? They complain that the paint’s chipping. Solution-oriented employees figure out who’s going to get the paint, who’s going to get the brush, who’s going to fix the chip. They create a team atmosphere. Don’t complain, do. This is what makes you into a leader.
  • Like a scholar athlete, you must have both brains and brawn. The straight-A jock. Guys should reveal their scholar side, not just jump into a conversation and take it over. It’s not high school anymore—the high school star quarterback is not king anymore.

You win when everybody wins. This has been proven countless times. This is the reality in a girl-power world. You must be team oriented, not self-oriented.

We all have power; power in life and power on the job. Let’s focus on people power.

IS YOUR NAME STOPPING EMPLOYERS FROM FINDING YOU?

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SHOW DATE: NOVEMBER 27, 2013

Don’t let your common name (ex. David Thomas) keep you invisible on social media.

Career Builder did a survey this year that found that 43% of hiring managers admit to researching high-ranking job candidates on LinkedIn and Facebook and other social media. And of course, having that common name makes you much harder to find.

There’s a simple solution. Make sure that when you register for a site like LinkedIn, the email address connected to the social media platform is the same email you have at the top of your resume.

A hiring manager can simply do a Google search on your email address and one of the first things to pop up will be your personal social media accounts. It’s a great way to stand out in the process.

Job Talk Daily Live – Nov 13, 2013

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Job Talk Daily Live – Nov 6, 2013

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