Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Myth of Procrustes, College Rankings, 5 Fingers, and Kevin Durant: What We Are NOT Going To DO With You in our College Counseling Program

I need a volunteer.

Anyone will do.

Thank you. Come stand next to me. Don't worry about the sword I'm holding in my left hand (it's a nerf sword by the way - something my 5 year old swings with at his kid sister). Nothing to worry about long as you answer my questions correctly.

Now I want to tell you a story.

It comes from Greek mythology.

Anyone familiar with the myths of Zeus and Poseidon...anyone see the Clash of the Titans?

Okay, good. An educated bunch in the ancient classics.

So there is this mythic figure named Procrustes. He's the son of Poseidon, which should tip you off that he's not a good dude.

His nickname was "The Stretcher".

See what Procrustes liked to do was rob people and then perform a very sick, R-rated surgical procedure on his victims.

The story goes that Procrustes would take his victims, "stretch" them on a table, and then lop off their limbs with his sword. And why? So that the victims perfectly fit the size of the table.

Pretty awful stuff, right?

Now what Procrustes did to his victims is NOT what we are going to do to you at Casady in our college counseling program.

We are NOT going to come up to you next year and ask you where you want to go to college, and if you answer OU, for example, take our sword and whack you.

In other words, we are NOT going to have you hold the Best Colleges in the US News and World Report in your hand and recite the colleges ranked #1-#10 on the first page of ranked schools.

"I will attend either Harvard,(whack) Princeton,(thwack) Yale, (lop) Columbia, (chop) MIT, (crunch) Stanford, (severe) U of Chicago, (slice) Penn, (swoop) or Duke" (smash).

Now those are all great schools. And we love it when our students aspire to gain admission into these highly selective schools. We love that kind of ambition. And drive. And focus.

But as far as fitting everyone of you into that mold - well that is not our way.

That's not our philosophy. And mission.

Our mission is to partner with students and parents to find the best college fit.

Now I want you to hold out your hand. I want to see all five of your fingers.

Here then is what we mean by best fit.

We mean that we are going to partner with you over four years to identify colleges that fit you in terms of 1) your passions, 2) your learning style, 3) your preferences, 4) your family's financial parameters, and 5) your academic parameters.

Pull all of those five fits together and you will have a "Tiger Woods fist pump" experience with college!

Our 74 seniors this year, for example, have submitted 292 college applications. That's what has gone out. Already our seniors have received 130+ acceptance letters from over 55 colleges/universities. So far only one application in the whole bunch has been denied. That's what has come in.

There is something else I want you to know. If you come by our office, you will find a Cyclone-Bound College Map. On it you will find 44 stickers that represent the 44 different colleges across the US where our seniors matriculated to last year.

This map of stickers debunks the myth that at Casady one size fits all.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

We take an "anti-Procrustes approach" to college counseling.

There is a final thing I want you to understand before you cross over to the upper division campus as incoming freshman.

I'm holding in my hand a college application. This application is called the Common Application. It is an application you can send to now over 500 colleges.

Now notice on page 4 of the Common Application that the first bubble you see under "Extracurricular Activities & Work Experience" is a bubble with the number 9 above it.

That number 9 stands for your 9th grade year.

What then does this tell you?

The college application begins the first day you step on our campus as a 9th grader.

Middle school, to switch analogies, is like practice and scrimmaging. It's like the two games the OKC Thunder played against the Dallas Maverickss.

High school - well that is game time. That's Christmas Day. The OKC Thunder vs. Orlando Magic. Everything counts. Everything matters. Everything has potential playoff ramifications.

I don't say that to scare you. Well maybe to scare some of you.

I say that to you to excite you. You listen to Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook during the pre-season, and all you heard them talk about was how pumped they were to start the season.

That KD and Westbrook attitude is what we want from you.

How does that sound? Can we do it?

I'm pumped for the journey ahead with you guys.