In a New York Times article published just last week, Anna Bahr analyzes the correlation between victory in preschool admissions warfare and the Ivy League acceptance letters that arrive in the victors’ mailboxes nearly fifteen years later. Bahr’s analysis suggests the main reason why The Precocious Urchin Co. offers families assistance in preparing for college admission as early as they determine they need it:
Whether you’re an applicant who has demonstrated perseverance over extraordinary hardships, or one with a record of achievement continuously facilitated by your friends, family and community since infancy, admissions committees like to see a long record of ambition and effort to deliver on it from you. How else can they trust that you’ll be motivated to properly exploit the university’s resources rather than let your undergrad years fly by in a haze of keg stands and pizza parlor runs, and that you’ll remain on track to represent your alma mater well through your post-undergrad achievements?
The Precocious Urchin Co. wasn’t founded to promote the cutthroat politics currently pervasive in academic admissions processes from nursery school onward, which Bahr details in the ‘Times’ article. That isn’t to say that helping people work toward admission to ultra-competitive scholastic programs many years before they’re eligible for admission isn’t one of my goals as the company’s founder. On the contrary, I hope that by beginning to prepare for the college admissions process early – whether that’s the spring of their junior year of high school, or as many as fourteen springs prior – applicants can gain confidence in themselves and the process so that they don’t sacrifice their health to harried preparation for it.
With that in mind, three tips for applicants seeking to have some fun with the process early (or very early, or very, very early) follow:
- Avoid burnout by balancing college admissions preparation with activities that are purely fun and entirely self-serving. This is so important because after you’re admitted to your academic program of choice, you’ll still need a lot of energy to thrive in it and bear fruit from it afterward.
- Remember that some of the activities in which you began partaking in early childhood simply because you liked them may already contribute to your highly-competitive brand. Example: If you’ve enjoyed watching music videos than anything else in the world since you were a little boy, you don’t necessarily have to move away from that by reinventing yourself as a transatlantic tightrope unicyclist. Admissions committees at the academic programs most likely to lead you to a rewarding career (MBA/MFA dual-degree at NYU Stern and Tisch, perhaps) would, for example, prefer to experience the real passion evident in your e-book criticizing those videos through an original analytical framework over anything you did reluctantly as an admissions stunt. And you’d probably prefer that, too.
- Adjust to the reality that although academic admission is often a game with bonuses and deductions for achievements and failings, life may otherwise be chaotic and unpredictable. The sooner you acknowledge that you won’t always have as much influence over your fate as you’d like, the sooner you can focus on just trying your best to achieve your goals without beating yourself up over any disappointments or missteps along the way. Your best – undiminished by fear of failure and debilitating stress – may just be enough.
Founder of The Precocious Urchin Co.