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Why Values Matter in College Admission

College admission is quite the puzzle. There are so many funky, intricate pieces, some more easy to fit than others.


But you know when you’re finally completing a puzzle and there’s that one agonizing missing piece? The one that’s keeping you from successfully reaching your goal? I’m here to tell you that, in the context of college admission, that missing piece is values identification.


Did you know that personal values actually play a critical role in the college admission process?


Most teens, though, have never sat down to clarify their values, and no one’s ever asked them what they are. (I know this from the blank stares I get when I first get started on values identification exercises with my students.) And certainly they’ve never made the connection between values and college admission.


If you don’t know what you value, how will admission officers know?


So today I want to tell you 2 ways that values play an unequivocally pivotal role in college admission:


  1. Values should form the foundation of your personal essay. Colleges want to know what makes you tick. Who are you? What's your story? What makes up your character? Who will you be when you step foot on their campus? Taking some time to reflect on and clarify your values is sure to yield a revelatory essay.

  2. Colleges are looking to admit solid human beings. Admission officers want to make sure that the scholars that they welcome to campus are, at the end of the day, good people who will positively impact those around them. In the words of Jeff Schiffman, Tulane's Director of Admission: "How you behave when you think no one else is watching tells a lot about your character, and if we get word that you've been cruel to someone else, expect to make alternative future plans."


That’s it! You’ve found your missing piece. Dust it off and take some time to contemplate your values. It’s truly one of the most effective ways to help you crush the college admission process (and well, life itself).



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