The College Admission Process is Underway… and Your Kids Are in the Gap!

By Susan Ford Collins

Your seniors are half way through their last year of high school and the college-selection | student-selection process is racing ahead. Applications and essays are in, but chances are the tension is higher than ever! And if your kids are juniors now, you’ll be going through it next year.

First-round college choices have already replied. If the answer was yes and it was your senior’s top choice, hurrah! But many students are caught in the emotionally straining and self-confidence draining gap between being turned down or deferred… and finding out which college wants them. A rough period for students, and for parents! What will the next four years really cost… tuition plus expenses? And how will you pay for it?

Your senior, who was probably diligent last semester, may have come down with a serious case of “senor-itis”… that energy-draining disorder that sets in after three and a half years of long hours, hard work and after school sports when the accelerator was constantly pressed to the floor. But now it isn’t.

What to do now: Two all-important steps

Here are two things I learned by studying Highly Successful People for 20 years, and teaching The Technology of Success in major corporations, schools and universities for 20 more! Two things you need to do with your kids now. Or support them in doing on their own.

Step One: Make time to Success File

There is still time left for you and your kids to learn and practice the First Success Skill: How to “Build and Rebuild Your Self-Confidence”… a skill your kids will need more and more in the years ahead. First you will need to create a file… an old-school manila folder or, better yet, a computer file or One Note… bottom line, a place where you can permanently store your kids’ successes and they can continue adding them on a daily basis. A place they can quickly access when the going gets tough… and from time to time it will, like it or not.

But first, here is a key question: What is success?

Most people have never asked themselves what success is. And most students and teachers haven’t either. But this is a question you and your kids need to consider before they enter college and have to maintain their self-confidence and enthusiasm, courage and determination without you there beside them. Or when a phone call can’t reach you.

Success has three essential parts. Colleges want to know that you have the ability to produce all three kinds.

1-Success is Completion: Yes, this is the part of success most people know about… accomplishment. Starting, doing and finishing what we set out to do, and others set out for us to do. Colleges predict future success by looking at past success. They want to know you’re a “completer” not just a starter, a contributor not just a taker, so it’s smart to start filing times when you completed something most kids would have given up on. Or a painful experience you turned from a loss to a win. Times when you helped someone else win. Or when you led others at school, sports, in your family and community.

2- Success is also Deletion: Sometimes success is not doing, knowing when to let go of what no longer works for you: old habits, methods and relationships, foods that make you revved up and racy or stuffed up and sleepy. Friendships that encourage you to wander off track. Colleges want to hear about your Deletion Successes because they tell them about your character, your ability to make vital choices and avoid needless injuries, detours and mistakes. What have you let go of that could have ruined your life or another’s, but didn’t? Some deletion successes may seem too private to share but revealing them in a positive light in essays and interviews shows colleges that you’re willing to share experiences that can help you and others in the future.

3- Success is Creation: Success is being able to go beyond what you’ve been taught, beyond the methods already in use. Success is coming up with new ways. In the world you are entering, it’s no longer enough to succeed by only by completing and deleting, you also need to be creators and leaders. Your ability to create and innovate is what colleges and future employers will be looking for, first and foremost.

Do you know who Jeff Bezos is? Have you ever ordered anything from Then you know Jeff Bezos; he’s Amazon’s creator. Do you know Blake Ross? Have you ever used Firefox? Then you know Blake Ross. He co-founded Firefox at 16 and appeared on the cover of Wired Magazine at 19. Then he became Director for Product at Facebook. More and more top innovators start their life work at your age! Who else can you think of? How about in fashion, music and dance? Do you know Julianne Hough? She is a highly successful young TV and movie star who is asking Miriam Webster to redefine success in their dictionary so kids won’t get caught working longer and harder and never feeling satisfied the way she did. This is an important topic I will be giving a keynote on at the Redefining Success Conference at Smith College in April.

Two Laws of Success Filing you need to remember now and forever:

*** When your Success File is full, you feel Success-Full. When you Success File is low, you feel dependent and needy. And you tend to lie around, eat, drink and procrastinate too! So fill up that file now.

*** Success is your past gives you confidence in your future. And, success in your application, essays and interviews gives colleges and future employers the confidence they will need to tell you YES! And to stick with you in the years ahead.

STEP TWO: Dream Your Future Now… in full sound and color

Your parents’ world of science fiction will be your reality! Here’s what’s already underway… Bioprinted ears (in 3 years) and bioficial hearts (in 10) made from extra fat from around the recipient’s own stomach so rejection will be avoided. What will you create that will change the world? What is your passion and mission?

Prelive your future success… like skiers do who are about to successfully head downhill, or golfers about to make a crucial putt, or exams you are about to pass with flying colors, or jobs you will want and earn. Start imagining and filing future successes as well (yes, add them to your Success File past and future now. What do you want to do and be in your life?

Start creating your life like a movie producer would… with that much color and clarity, that much sound and emotion, all the completions, deletions and creations that will make life worth dreaming and living. And inspire others to succeed too.

c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email

* For more on Self-Confidence, read Skill 1 in The Joy of Success and Our Children Are Watching.

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