Nearly two years ago, I wrote this entry about a sophomore in high school my wife and I were about to interview to babysit our then infant son. We were impressed with her initiative in offering up her services on a parent listserv, and with how responsive and mature she seemed in her communications with us. Too many families might think that babysitting isn’t a remarkable enough activity if a student wants to impress colleges, but as I explained:
“This kid is learning how to pitch herself in writing and in person. She’s learning how to meet people and make a good impression. If she gets gigs, she’ll be learning how to manage customers’ expectations, and hopefully, how to be remarkable enough that she’ll earn referrals and repeat business. And she’ll be earning (and hopefully managing) her own money. I can’t imagine that she could learn any of these things at Harvard Summer School or at a pay-to-play expensive summer program in a foreign land.”
So, whatever happened to that sixteen-year-old?
- We hired her.
- She’s been our go-to babysitter for two years.
- She was recently admitted early decision to Dartmouth.
No magic formula. No contrived experiences designed to impress. Just a smart, nice, responsible, hardworking, happy kid who wanted to go to Dartmouth, but also had enough confidence to know that she’d be just fine wherever she went.
Parents and students, I hope you’ll go back and read that past entry (here’s the link again). And I hope you’ll think twice about choosing (and especially about paying for) activities based solely on what you think will impress colleges.