‘The greatest line I never said’ — from college admissions counselors

(freepik.com)
(freepik.com)

Many college admissions counselors across the country communicate with each other through a listserv. Most often they share professional thoughts and advice, but every now and then, they have a little fun.

Recently, one counselor, in an e-mail with the subject line “The Greatest Line I never Said,” asked others to share things they had thought about saying to students but managed not to. Here are some of them; when you read them, you will understand why I was given permission to use them only if the authors remained anonymous:

 

I was reminded of an interaction with a student … She told me that she was interested in applying to Dartmouth.  I looked at her challenging transcript and I was SO tempted to say:  If an asteroid strikes the earth and kills every teenager but you, you MIGHT make the wait list.

To quote the great Judge Smails from Caddyshack, the line that always goes through my head is, “Well, the world needs ditch-diggers, too.”

I was working with a friend of my daughter who along with her parents were very unrealistic about her college choices ( champagne dreams on a near beer academic record). The line that kept turning over and over in my mind as I worked with them was from Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” when Woody Allen’s character says, “I’d love to continue this conversation but I’m due back on the planet Earth.” I was able to contain myself and not blurt out this line. The student ended up applying to schools that I told her were probably not going to admit her and I was right. Only after all these denials did she consider applying (late) to colleges that I asked her to consider. The happy ending is that one of those colleges admitted her and she did well and graduated from that college.

My favorite unsaid line to a student with low scores and low science grades who planned on being a neurosurgeon: “I can guarantee you’ll never be my neurosurgeon.”

This one is more along the category of “lines that I probably should not have used but did anyway.” I will say that I cannot take credit for saying it, but it was one of those special moments that I will never forget.

When I first started in the profession I worked in a school where the counseling department was responsible for nominating students for a number of school based scholarships. When the list came out, one of the popular kids was not on it and her mom came in to discuss this situation with the student’s counselor.

As the discussion escalated and the parent became more and more demanding of her daughter’s right to receive a scholarship, my colleague kindly reminded the parent that to receive a scholarship it is implied that one is a scholar. I will never forget that moment as the parent’s mouth dropped and she stormed out of our office. I think we may have all applauded our colleague for doing this.

The one thing I want to say to my in-a-hurry seniors who fill out transcript request forms quickly without attention to detail is, “Aww honey if you can’t spell the name of college correctly, you probably shouldn’t apply there.”

One of my extremely intelligent, less motivated/self-medicated students went to a large, prestigious flagship university to pursue a pre-med track and dropped out after his freshman year with a transcript full of failed classes and a W’s. He casually said, “Oh, it’s all good. I’ll just pursue pre-med at a community college and go to medical school from there.” With a sympathetic smile on my face, my inner voice responded, “Really? Medical school where? The University of Burundi?” I think he’s currently pursuing the high life in Colorado, and I’m not talking about the ski slopes.

We were thinking of having coffee mugs printed–

[School name] College Guidance: “Where Dreams Go To Die”

It’s not exactly the same thing, but I’ve always thought that college fairs would be so much more efficient if there were a federal law requiring teenagers to present an academic credential that proved they had even a glimmer of hope of being admitted to the college whose T-shirt they’re wearing.  Who’s with me?

RELATED: What commencement speakers are telling college graduates 

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss | February 9