Talking Frankly

Data Mining

I have to be honest: Raw talent is not a guarantee of admission to the school of your dreams. While many schools are becoming more and more holistic in their approach to selecting their incoming students—relying on much more than simply GPAs and test results—these metrics are still extremely important and can be real deal-breakers.

I work with a wonderful young woman who is smart, creative, a great writer, and seriously committed to issues of social justice. She speaks with passion on subjects about which she is deeply informed, and I enjoy talking with her every time we work together.

But I have a dilemma: While she ought to go to a rigorous, intellectual school—one where the students are much like her—she can’t. She won’t get into these schools because of some issues in high school that caused her grades to suffer—really suffer; her transcript is filled with Ds.

So what do I do with a student like this? It’s a conundrum. She doesn’t want to go to a school that isn’t at her “level,” but she can’t get into these schools that are truly meant for her. And this has resulted in some hard conversations between us. Though it has made me feel like an ogre at times, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I let her think that just because she is naturally talented she can get into a competitive college. I have struggled with how blunt I should be, and I always strive to make sure I’m honest about my expectations without harming her self-esteem.

My mission is to recommend “right fit” schools for my students; but the reality is, admissions counselors are basing likelihood for college success on a student’s past results. So try each day to let your talent shine, and have it be reflected in your grades!