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This is another in a series of posts about some memorable applicants, their essays, and how we found them together.

Jake’s mom was a friend. She thought we’d get along, and I could get him through his essays. When we spoke, we both knew it was an excellent match. Jake is a science kid. It’s all he thought about, it was central to his life, he was applying to many science-heavy schools. Colgate in upstate New York was tops on his list – his ED choice.

We started with his Common Application Essay. He wanted to write about science, some interesting summer research experiences he’s had. I wasn’t convinced that was the way to go. “Science is all over your application, ” I told him. “Let’s show a different shade of you.” Jake reluctantly agreed and we spent a few phone calls trying to find something else, but to no avail. Max ran track for his high school. He was good and so, too was his team. I asked him about his most recent match. He told an interesting story.

“It was a few weeks ago. I ran two races – a 1500m and a one mile. The match was in the morning on a Saturday. The 1500M was first. I finished second. I almost beat the kid. But he turned it on at the end.”

The mile race was later in the day. He had only run a mile race twice and wasn’t sure he could actually pull it off. He had two or three hours to figure out how. Those few hours were tough for him.

“I wasn’t sure I could do it. I almost dropped out. I spend the entire time psyching myself up.”

Jake told me what he did. His coach was a huge help. His dad, too.

“I went back and forth and back and forth. But at one point, I just realized I had to do it.”

Jake finished 2nd, running a personal best. He was elated. I could hear it in his voice.

“This is your essay!” I told him. “Open with the 1500. Close with the mile. But the huge middle chunk of it is how you came around, how you convinced yourself you could do it. It’ll be very inspiring.”

Jake wanted to run this by his mom. I was against that. I knew she’d balk – which she did. “I want him to write about science,” she told me. But I held firm. “Okay,” she said, “but if it isn’t good, can we start again?” I agreed.

Jake’s essay was terrific! A truly inspirational story about a kid who ran a double in a track meet, and the two personal bests that were the result.

Jake’s mom never mentioned the essay, and we moved onto his supplements.

Cut to: five months later, Jake’s mom calls me, “Jake got into Colgate!” Then she instructed me to check my email. It was an image of his acceptance letter from Colgate. On the bottom was a handwritten message from the head of Admissions:

“We enjoyed your essay on running track. It was a very inspirational story. Welcome to the class of 2019!”

I hope I can help your son or daughter like I did Jake.

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