Illana Raia Interview (Part 3)

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In today’s episode of “College Admissions Real Talk”, Dr. Legatt interviews Illana Raia, the founder and CEO of Être – a mentorship platform for girls, and they discuss mentorship, empowerment, and creating opportunities during COVID-19.


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: I know you work a lot with college-bound students and their parents. What are some concerns that people are sharing with you about navigating these opportunities during these times? 

IR: It is tough. It is. My heart breaks that repeatedly when I hear like the anxiety in the voices and you just want to say to them “it’s going to be fine”. And I’m sure this is the same thing that you’re telling the kids that you work with. I think the main concerns that I’m hearing when you get college juniors who all of a sudden we’re planning this year, their junior year, that their sports season is gone and the spring musical has gone. And there isn’t going to be a school newspaper and all of these things that were their differentiators had suddenly gone up in smoke. And what exactly are they supposed to do about that? And the kids are nervous about it, but parents are nervous about it. The question is, how do you stand out with real authenticity when all of those things that you’ve been working towards for your junior and senior year simply aren’t going to be there? And the answer I’ve been giving is to get really creative and get really brave because maybe there isn’t going to be an art show at school for you to display your art. Maybe it’s time to set up an art website and actually get really brave and show your art in a much more public way. Maybe you’re not going to publish in the literary magazine. Maybe you’re going to get on a website to have your writing published, or you’re going to actually self publish a book which some of my girls have done. Maybe you’re not on stage. Maybe you’re doing a virtual live comedy room. There are things and ways out there to safely and authentically share your town, but it might be bigger and it might be a little more public than your school campus. And it takes a decent amount of courage to get out there and do it. 

AL: Absolutely. I love that advice, and it definitely resonates with what I tell my students. And you’ve said the two words, “creative” and “brave”. And I think that having the best ingenuity and ability to pivot during these times is really what’s going to get us through as individuals and also as a society of educated women and women who are seeking higher education, we have to be the role model for other people. If we want to elevate ourselves to these really great leadership roles. So I love that idea of putting yourself out there, and it takes courage. It takes vulnerability. But the journey is the destination, and we can’t lose sight of the kinds of things that we are able to do, though, of course, our hearts are broken by all the things that we can’t. 

IR: The other thing to remember for the kids is the colleges understand the colleges absolutely know this, and you are giving them an opportunity to really see you. So many college essays usually contain something. Tell us about a hardship where you had to overcome an obstacle or tell us about how you did that. A lot of people now have the same hardship. Everyone is dealing with the same thing at very different levels and in very different degrees of hurting and that’s real. And people have lost family members and there’s depth there. But all of you applying to college now have this same hardship to really show these colleges how you dealt with it. And what did you do? And how did you give back? And how did you improve your community or take another skill that you have to the next level? How did you do it? And it is a really clear chance to show yourself to a school that’s asking that same question of everyone. 

AL: That resonates involved with what I tell students. I tell them to work on their College admissions X Factor, and that stands for experience, expertise and exponentialism. 

IR: You said it so much better. 

AL: Yeah, so I had some time to think through my framework to experience essentially getting exposure to things, trying new things, figuring out if you like something or don’t expertise is going deep into a niche of swords. So let’s say you really like writing as some of your students have self published. That’s a way that they can take that expertise and really hone it and put it down on paper. And an exponentialism would be if they take something like that book, and they not only write it, but they also publish it on Amazon to share it with your group at your girls, and they’re able to impact lives through the experiences and expertise that they’re building. So that’s ultimately what college they’re looking for. They’re looking for that X Factor and for students to capitalize on the opportunities that have been available and to make the most of them and to help other people through those opportunities. 

IR: 100% Right. And that makes the process more rewarding for the student, too, to walk away with something that you created. And it might have been something you never plan to do. But here we are. And you might be holding a book for an award winning piece of art or a new sports community that you found online. And you found a sports mentor through some other organization because your team could be practicing person. But you reached out and still found guidance online.

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.