Figuring Out Who You Are: The Most Important Battle Of College Admissions

Feb 4, 2021 | podcast

In today’s episode of “College Admissions Real Talk”, Dr. Legatt talks about figuring out who you are and how that applies to college admissions.

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VO: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk with Dr. Aviva Legatt, a podcast for students seeking to get admitted to top-tier colleges. Each episode will feature an important tip for your college admission success, delivered with candor and love. If you’ve ever wanted to take a peek inside the mind of a college admissions officer, this is your chance. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. So, what’s your dream school? 


AL: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk. This is Dr. Aviva Legatt, founder and Elite Admissions Expert at Ivy Insight. Today, we are going to be discussing figuring out who you are, The most important battle of college admissions. Have you ever asked yourself the question “who am I”? Unfortunately, you can’t answer this question quickly in a superficial BuzzFeed quiz kind of way. It’s not just a list of the top three things you like like Marvel movies, chocolate almonds, reading. It’s also, not a laundry list of things that you do like I’ve danced competitively for 12 years, I have the highest GPA in my class, and I volunteered with the Red Cross on weekends. Those qualities are nice, but all they do is scratch the surface of the iceberg that is you. Who you are, your essence, is so much more than the you you’re used to presenting to the world. The you that most of your teachers and friends and classmates, maybe even your parents, know. and I’ll be the first to admit getting in touch with your true self and honoring your unique voice is hard. It’s not another resume builder that I’m adding to your to-do list I promise you that. Finding out who you are starts with asking yourself tough questions like “What aspects of life are most exciting to me?” “Who do I like to interact with and in what circumstances?” Answering these kinds of questions allows you to work on the most important things to you and to work with the kind of people who support and inspire you. Because what happens when you’re doing your best work with the best people? You get to do more of it and have more fun doing it. This means that you have my permission to stop doing activities that don’t serve you anymore. And to stop working with people that don’t meet your own standards and strict criteria. But remember these criteria need to be yours. That means you can start to dump your boring extracurricular activities and potentially pick up new ones. From an admission standpoint, you want to spend a lot of time making a big impact in just 2 to 3 activities instead of spreading yourself too thin. Believe me, I see it all the time. “Oh. I’ll attend this club meeting on Monday and that club meeting on Wednesday and I have two club meetings on Thursday”! But why are you going to these club meetings? Is it really helping you figure out who you are and what you want? It’s scary to think about narrowing down what you’re doing with your time, But you can do it and it’s really important if you’re targeting those top tier colleges. And by the way, I do offer a lot of support and some exercises for how you can do this in my book, “Get Real and Get In”. Here are some ideas to start with. First, I recommend that you clear your mind of what you think you should do for an extracurricular activity. Forget about what your friends are doing. Forget about all those service hours that so and so told you to add because it quote “looks good for college” and actually think about what you would want to do with your free time if you had a chance, This doesn’t necessarily mean eating cookies and watching movies, But something that would help you to make an impact on somebody else that you would enjoy spending time doing. Second, ask friends and mentors for feedback about when you’re at your happiest and at your best. This will give you some idea of what when you’re entering a flow state. So, when you’re entering a flow state, you’re going to be at peace and satisfied in what you’re doing. When you’re not in a flow state and you’re kind of running from thing to thing, that’s when your sense of identity and priorities can get lost. that’s when your sense of identity and priorities can get lost. Finally, I ask that you focus on what you like to do for fun and what you’re good at in order to choose or create an activity that differentiates you from someone else. And that means oftentimes, choosing things that are different from what your friends may like. Once you’re more certain about what you want to be doing with your time and who you want to spend time with as you’re making this impact and you’ve dumped unnecessary activities that leave you confused and directionless. You need to understand that you’re doing the right thing. Even if it doesn’t feel good. Not everyone will agree with your choices. But if you’re making your choices with intention, that is all the justification you need to spend your time the way you want to spend your time. If you don’t know why you’re spending your time where you’re spending your time, then don’t be surprised if college admissions officers have no idea about that either. When an admissions officer is reading your file and there are open questions about why you’re spending your time a certain way, college admissions officers will be left to fill in their own life logic about why you did what you did. And by the way, this is never playing out very well in my experience on the committee. Remember, also, that colleges have a vested interest in admitting students that advance their values. So you have to think about who you are and what your values are and how those qualities align with the colleges that you’re seeking admission to. Once you learn more about colleges and see which ones have similar values to yours, You can refine which schools you include, what you don’t, and figure out the best story for your college essays. I’m cheering you on your next steps.


VO: College Admissions Real Talk is hosted by Aviva Legatt, edited by Stephanie Carlin, and produced by Incontrera Consulting. I’m Caroline Stokes and this has been your daily boost of college admissions insight. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222- 5762. For more information on Dr. Legatt and Ivy Insight visit www.ivyinsight.com. And you can pick up Dr. Legatt’s book, “Get Real and Get In”, at major retail outlets across the world. Insight out.