Jessie's Blog

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Can We Just Take a Hot Second and Talk About the Admissions Timeline?

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Can we just take a hot second and talk about time?  As in, timelines and everything that needs to get done when you have a budding college applicant in the house.

Our third, Aaron, is a high school junior. I  just booked his first official college visit that is not virtual!  I was so excited by this accomplishment that I sent a screenshot of the confirmation to the family group chat. (I usually ONLY send pictures of Aspen, Buxy, and Bella because I'm the crazy dog lady in our tribe.)

You may —…

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Happy New Year! Here's to Finding More Sweet in 2021

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Receiving Christmas and Holiday greeting cards this year brought me significantly more pleasure than in years past. No one was more surprised than I was by my feelings of authentic delight when the first card arrived, nevermind that it was from Chewy.com! I even put it on display, tucking it under a window frame where everyone would see it – “everyone” being my immediate family since no one else was coming – and I made sure to point out to each of them the very FIRST greeting of the SEASON (cue …

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The Essential Self and Right Fit

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What Do the Essential Self and the Right Fit Have in Common? 

The short answer: Everything.

The long answer is, well, longer than that, but we think it’s worth reading about, thinking about, and considering seriously.

Sociologist Martha Beck proposes that each of us has two selves that form the basis of our operations: a “social self” and an “essential self.” In Finding Your Own North Star, Beck lists the behaviors of these selves: The “social self” is avoidance-based, conforming, imitative, …

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Make America Grateful Again — Tracey's Wish

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Two days after Christmas last year, I hitched my belt and realized that I had to go out a notch further than usual. And then my inner critic stepped to the front of the stage. 

I’d know that voice anywhere; the one that is very good at making me feel like sh*t about myself, and today she picked up the mic and started in on one of her favorite routines: the "you need more self-control," finger-wagging, body-shaming litany. "How hard is it for you to enter your consumption into your My Fitness …

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"It Must Be Hard to Be a College Admissions Consultant Right Now"

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Saturday, I was volunteering at our local ski area, handing out awards for the kids’ costume race. (Thing 1 and Thing 2 had performed a smashing dance, tapping away in their ski boots. My Cat in the Hat was concussed and sullenly left for home to avoid bright light.) That concussion, and the admissions scandal… plus another dozen or so other things that had come up that week had rattled me. But it was the scandal that really stuck, especially when another parent approached me to half-jokingly sa…

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Navigating the Launch of Our College Graduate

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Beginning the process of letting go of Bryn at UChicago's Orientation 4 years ago. Check out that grip!


Bryn, our oldest, is graduating this weekend from UChicago. Natalie, a college junior, has just returned from Spain and is in the midst of a hard-earned internship at the local hospital. Aaron will be wrapping up his finals and preparing for a ski camp in Oregon, which starts the day after Bryn’s graduation. Mary will still be in school. And my mother, recently widowed, is in the midst of ha…

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How You Can be a Rock Star at Whatever—A Lesson Brought to You by Jimmy Kimmel

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 Jimmy Kimmel failed a test as an undergrad at Arizona State. It wasn’t because he hadn’t prepared. Or because he skipped a bunch of classes in favor of playing Grand Theft Auto with his roommates. You will likely never guess the reason why. It was because he didn’t have a pencil on him and couldn’t bring himself to ask a classmate to borrow one. Yes. Jimmy Kimmel. The guy who was on the cover of the February 2018 GQ and hosts a daily show that more than 2 million viewers watch. A pencil? Wait, …

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The Hot Potato Essay—How to Spot It, Fix It, and Cool It Down



During the Q&A at an NJACAC conference a few years back, a counselor asked, “What do you do with a student who has written about a particularly hard topic? Maybe they were abused, their dad died (or golden retriever) suddenly, their grandma is incarcerated, or they are dealing with a mental illness...and, well, it's just not very good?"

After a bit of back and forth, I added to the discussion, “Every student has something they absolutely need to write about. There are some stories that have been …

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Please Change the Station…[Bitch]: Does Your Essay Pass the Tonal Rule?

Stop walking. Stop talking. Know your audience.

A friend of mine has a house rule she developed for her kids when they were preschoolers. It all started over a heated dispute involving waffles, butter, and jam and the order in which the latter two should be applied and in what thickness. She calls it the Tonal Rule. Here is how it works. If you make a request or say something to a sibling, parent, sitter, teacher, the Uber driver, or for that matter, the dog and it is plausible that at the end o…

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The One Thing Every Admissions Officer is Looking For

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At a recent college admissions event, a prospective student got up, and a bit nervously asked a panel of admissions officers, “What do you look for in a college admissions essay? What makes one application stand apart from others?”

I could feel this teen’s heart beating in his rib cage, the look on his face that begged the panel to help him hone in on which of all of his experiences he should write about, what he should share, to make these people see he was a s…

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