This website is intended to be different from the mass of college information out there. We want to create something that is not only entertaining and informative but also clearly explains what the college process is—and what it is not.
We offer some unique perspectives: David is a veteran teacher and college essay specialist who recently completed the college process with his two sons, and Nick has worked on both sides of the desk in college admissions and high school counseling. Together we know the joys and frustrations that can make the college application process so intimidating.
For 20 years, both in a large public high school and an exclusive college prep school, David helped get other people’s kids into college. After decades of teaching students and writing recommendation letters and consulting on college applications, the time came to help his sons navigate the college process.
Going through the college search reaffirmed much of what he already knew, but it also revealed the seedy underbelly: strategic gamesmanship that would make Frank Underwood from House of Cards blush, an entire industry based on just thinking about where to apply, and the startling realization that college was priced upwards of $50,000 more per year than it cost him to attend back in the day.
Nick has a doctorate in Educational Leadership and has worked as an admissions officer at Vanderbilt University, the University of Pennsylvania and American University. Since 2010, he has worked as a high school college counselor and as a faculty member at Rice University’s Center for College Readiness.
Nick sees his primary role as a college counselor is to calm students and parents down so they can make the best decisions about finding a college.
We seek to differentiate ourselves from the myriad books and websites that focus on gaming the system while others promise “proven” formulas on how to create the perfect application that will get you admitted to Harvard (notice that it’s always Harvard—never Stanford, MIT or Yale).
We will provide information each week to help you understand how admissions decisions are made and explain what students can do to make themselves more appealing to the college admissions committees. Our hope is that we not only help you wrap your head around the often complex world of applying to college but that we also find opportunities to make you laugh along the way (or at least vent your frustrations in a healthy manner).
While applying to college is an important rite of passage for many high school seniors, at the end of the day students are filling out some documents to determine where they will pursue their higher education—it is hardly the Hunger Games.
We try to remember that the hysteria surrounding college admissions is largely manufactured by a hyperbolic media, both social and mainstream. We hope our site lends some insight, comfort, and humor to the process. Our mantra is as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy suggests: Don’t Panic.
Unsurprisingly, in this highly competitive (some say “toxic”) atmosphere that surrounds the college admissions process, people are looking to game the system without really knowing what they are doing—or why.
Yes, college acceptance rates at selective colleges are now under ten percent, but there are also thousands of happy students who attend hundreds of amazing colleges—many that you’ve never heard of.
Recently, a family came in to visit with Nick, and they asked if he liked their child’s college essay. Nick assured them that he indeed liked the essay. Then the student looked at Nick and asked, “But do you really like it?”
Finally Nick said, “You’re not listening because you’re looking for something to worry about.”
Sometimes it’s that simple—just stay calm and focus on being the best version of yourself.
If Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson were around today, he might have written Fear and Loathing in College Admissions, but he did once offer a solid piece of advice that can be applied to hopeful college applicants and their families: You bought the ticket, take the ride.