Megan Dooley “¢ School Counselor “¢ Bernardsville
Nicole Oringer “¢ Partner “¢ Ivy Ed Bernardsville “¢ Fanwood

Transcribed from the Powerpoint Presentation

In case you missed it…

  • Nationally there are only about 350 schools that turn down more than half of their applicants. That means that there are thousands of schools that are accessible to most students and that often offer money to qualified candidates.
  • There is one study that found that “the top third of students in non-elite schools outperform the bottom third of students in the Ivies in what was dubbed the “Big Fish-Little Pond Theory.” (Malcolm Gladwell) – An interesting take on finding the right place to thrive.
  • “If our kids don’t learn to persevere when things get really challenging, if they don’t learn resiliency in the face of set backs, and if they don’t learn that they’ve got more in them than they thought, it’s going to be really, really hard for them to flourish as adults.” – Angela Duckworth, University of Pennsylvania

It’s nothing new…

  • 1932: “The successful adjustment of American educational relations demands a sharp deflation in the swollen and unwholesome concern with mere admission to college.” — William S. Learned, from the New York Times
  • 1957: Excerpts from a NY Times article on College Admissions titled “High School Seniors’ Agony,” by Charlotte Devree

–”Competition for admission to college today has created an unprecedented time of intense study, worry and waiting”

–”Getting into college has never been so competitive”

–”Standards of admissions have shot upwards. Parents who got into top notch colleges on medium marks and good all-around qualifications cannot understand why their sons and daughters can’t.”

…but it is having an impact!

So what can we do to help?

  • Teach to be good consumers


  • Educating students and parents on the right questions to ask when doing college searches/visits
  • Educate families about how to meaningfully evaluate rankings
  • Talk to students and families about creating their own ranking system based on what they value most
  • Spread and teach the idea of finding the “Right Place(s)” and not the “Best Place(s)”
  • Dispel the myth of (single) “Fit”


  • Talk to families about the importance of semantics in the college process
  • Establish the balance between empathy and honesty
  • Point out that it’s a choice to let this process be anxiety provoking
  • Encourage open conversations among all parties involved

Emotional Intelligence

  • Ability to recognize one’s own and others’ feelings, and use this to inform thinking and behavior
  • “So-called noncognitive skills — attributes like self-restraint, persistence and self-awareness — might actually be better predictors of a person’s life trajectory than standard academic measures.” from NY Times article, “Can Emotional Intelligence Be Taught?” by Jennifer Kahn

“How to be Emotionally Intelligent”
Daniel Goleman

  • Self-awareness

–Realistic self-confidence

–Emotional insight

  • Self-management


–Emotional balance


  • Empathy

–Cognitive and emotional empathy

–Good listening

  • Relationship skills

–Compelling communication

–Team playing

What does EI mean to us in college admissions/counseling?

  • MBA programs are using it for admissions

–Notre Dame: Personal Characteristics Inventory

  • Possibly expanding to undergrad?

–Yale: Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT)

–Dartmouth, MIT…

  • Emotional intelligence does not come without failure
  • Generational changes/challenges
  • Fear of downward mobility
  • Facebook/technology/social media
  • Changes in parenting styles

Interesting insights

Frank Bruni

  • Some excerpts from Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, published this year with a series of articles in the New York Times:

–”…too many kids get to college and try to collapse it, to make it as comfortable and recognizable as possible.”

–” You don’t become a great academic because you’re trying t become a great academic. You become a great academic when you look out the window and you have something to say about what’s wrong with this picture that’s unique.”

–”Many people flourish in their careers and their relationships because of the buoyancy of their spirits, their talents for establishing a positive rapport with everyone around them and the emotional wisdom which they separate what’s vitality important and what’s not.”

  • Very helpful tool in explaining to families why it’s about the match and not the elite schools.
  • Some other helpful books:
  • David and Goliath By Malcolm Gladwell–Excellent Sheep by William Deresiewicz
    • Find something you like to do first and you’ll find out how to make money with it later.” – Bobbi Brown
    • “Great educations aren’t passive experiences; they’re active ones.” – Condoleezza Rice