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I get questions all the time. Here’s a popular one I receive from parents…

Q: How exactly did you get into the admissions consulting business?

Over the 11 years I’ve been at this, I’ve seen a dramatic change in not only the admissions process but in the applicants as well. Having no kids myself, my only exposure to teenagers is these applicants. The explosion of technology and social media has changed who they are and what they see themselves doing after graduation. These kids are savvy about what they need to do to succeed. They’re circumspect about the world and their place in it. I sometimes see them becoming conniving about what they need to get into an elite school. For a long time, white males gained more easy entry into Ivy League schools – something they took for granted. Now when they whine or moan about having to work for it, I splash cold water in their faces. “White people had a great run,” I said to one upper (upper!) middle class kid this last cycle, “but the gravy train is over.”

There’s a gender split that I’ve noticed. The boys only want to become Elon Musk, while the girls, in my experience, want to fix everything. I noticed this in 2018, the year after Trump won. “I plan to do something about this horrible country,” one motivated young woman told me, and I believe she will. It’s the young women that give me hope.

I become invested in not just their admissions prospects but other aspects, too, like being more introspective, making them better writers, appreciating what they have and what they can accomplish. But I’m only in their lives for a brief period. When I’m in a reflective mood, I find the folders of the 500-plus applicants I have worked with over the years. I like to read their essays to remember what they wrote about, to see if it resonates today. Then I Google them to see if they graduated, what careers they ended up having, and if they became who they wanted to be when I worked with them. Late last year I reached out to Maya, told her I reread her essay and how wonderful it still was. She laughed: “I don’t even remember what I wrote about.”