College App Weekend


It’s crunch time.

College apps for many California schools are due on Nov. 30. If you have a high school senior, as I do, this makes for an interesting Thanksgiving weekend.

Thankfully, the University of California and California State University apps are done. Now it’s on to the other schools with a variety of submission dates.

But all of the heavy lifting is done. The college visits. The standardized tests. Three years of academic high school courses. Extracurriculars. Volunteering. Work experience.

And that was all on my daughter’s part. For my part, it’s been encouraging, advising and a lot of driving. Okay, and a little nagging – no, actually, a lot – along the way.

As part of my learning project, what have I learned through this process?

Where you go to school does not define you. Opportunities are available wherever you are. You just have to look for them.

This applies in life; not just in college. Wherever you are today, there are opportunities. As Thomas Edison said, however, they may be disguised as hard work.

  • Put in the work. The real work happens every day. It involves having a vision for your life, setting goals and working toward them every day.

Making consistent progress toward goals is what makes people happy. Read more about how that applies to work in Teresa Amabile‘s The Progress Principle.

  • Follow the directions, and push the boundaries. A lot of school and life consists of following directions. That’s especially important in navigating any big bureaucracy.

But it’s also important to learn how you can push the boundaries in an ethical way, to make your own unique contribution.

In college applications, this is where the essays become so important. Rather than simply being a number with a GPA and SAT scores, your teen can show their unique approach to life and learning.

In life, it’s constantly asking how you could do things better. What would delight your family, your colleagues and your customers? What would delight you?

  • Don’t be afraid to make a change. Our culture places a huge premium on tenacity and perseverance. I’m one of the biggest adherents. There’s rarely a problem that can’t be solved through intense effort.

Yet there’s also wisdom in knowing when to cut your losses and make a change. I learned this when I ended up at the wrong college for me.

Instead of hunkering down and trying to make it work, I transferred to another school. I ended up in a better place for me. And it made all the difference.

(That’s one of my beloved alma maters, UCLA, pictured above. It feels only slightly ironic to be writing this on the day when my two alma maters are facing off in college football.)

This change principle can apply to anything in life – a career, an exercise program or a volunteer activity.

This blog started out as a way to explore the future of corporate communications. Many changes in my life this year – both personal and professional – have altered my course.

This blog has evolved. It’s still evolving. Just as life is constantly doing the same.

It’s part of finding the way to the future – just as college serves the same exploratory purpose. The next posts are still to be written.

What will they hold?

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Caroline Leach

Hi, I'm Caroline Leach. I help people and organizations tell their stories. I'm a Marketing VP at AT&T, a former Communications VP at DIRECTV and an alum of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This blog, How to Build Your Career through Social Media, shows you how to build your personal brand, advance your career and embrace your future. It helps you promote your employer and your network too. Opinions expressed in this blog are my own. Your comments are welcomed and encouraged. I'd love to hear from you!

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