This course will give you a blueprint get your kid get into a competitive college. It will not be easy, and by the end of the course, some of you will want to crumble this blueprint up and throw it away. But at least you’ll know what the other parents are doing and not admitting to doing. The cost is $95. We will meet from 9 – 10 pm Eastern Oct. 2-4. NOTE: There will not be any recordings. You cannot buy this course later.
For the last year, I have been getting more and more requests for coaching from parents who want to make a plan for their kids to get into competitive colleges. At first it was just homeschooling families, but now it’s actually families who don’t homeschool.
One reason people hire me is that you have to think like homeschoolers do to differentiate yourself as an applicant. But I just realized there’s another reason: I’ve spent the last nine years learning everything I can about how to get to the top of the music world. And my kid got into Juilliard at age 11.
To be clear, I don’t even know what it means to “get to the top of the music world” in the same way that I don’t know what it means to “get accepted at a competitive college.” Maybe both are like porn: you know it when you see it.
So, I will continue to talk as if we have a common definition. And here is a small sampling of what I know is true:
1. It’s not just the kid; it’s the parent.
The parent has to work just as hard as the kid to reach the goal. It’s similar to reaching the top of a Fortune 500 company: it’s a two-person job and the climbing executive has a stay-at-home spouse working just as competently and just as hard to reach their common goal of being CEO.
The competition to get to Juilliard was insane. I am one of the most crafty and dedicated parents in almost any crowd. But my skills in competitive parenting are nothing compared to the music parents.
I could tell you the version of my life where it’s a big surprise that my kid got into Juilliard and I’m not a musician and oh my gosh I never expected this. But the truth is that once I saw he couldn’t do this without my help, I gave it everything I had. And regardless of what they choose to tell you, behind every kid at Princeton there’s a super-focused, ambitious parent.
2. You don’t have to be rich. But do you have to be resourceful?
Sure, it’s easier to reach your goal if you’re rich. And that’s true for any goal. So there’s no point in talking about that. You only need to know that if you’re not rich then you will give up a lot more in order to reach the goal.
Some perspective: I don’t have a bedroom. I sleep in the living room. This is because I make it a huge priority to keep my rent really low so I have more money to put toward our goals. (When I worry it’s too weird to sleep in the living room I tell myself it’s okay because I got the idea from reading stories of scrappy Jewish families on the Lower East Side.)
3. You have to start young –– younger than you think.
This is true for any goal. It’s just that young means different ages for different goals. And it’s important to know what young is for your goal because you need to know if you’re too late.
Young for gymnastics is 3. But if you’re a boy, it’s a little older. Young for beach volleyball is 13, but it’s a little too old to start for indoor volleyball. Young for music is 3. Young for starting a company is 18.
To start old and still succeed, you would need a mitigating factor. Like your mom is a gymnastics coach so she can make up for lost time. You’re 7 feet tall in sixth grade so you don’t need to spend time learning how to dribble. Or you’re rich and you can buy the best horse.
This is all to say that you need to pick a goal that’s the right match for your start time.
4. Don’t work hard when it doesn’t count.
Kids internalize this rule early on when you tell them to do something like rake the leaves, and they do a bad job because half the leaves still haven’t fallen. People don’t stay late at the office to do a project their boss doesn’t care about. Actresses only lose a lot of weight in order to land a role.
For school this means you don’t need to work hard before 8th grade. Colleges don’t see any of your grades before then. Similarly, once you get your hook – national chess champion, published author, young entrepreneur – you don’t need to keep working hard at the hook. Because you already have it.
I heard about kids using this strategy at Juilliard. They get in at age 15 by practicing 6 hours a day. Then they shift to practicing one or two hours a day so they study 10 hours a day –– there’s a lot of school to make up for. Still, for string players from Juilliard, the acceptance rate at Harvard has been as high as 90%.
5. Use your unfair advantage. No, really.
You can get a traditional hook (figure skating, soccer, piano, all the suburban stereotypes), but that’s much harder than getting a nontraditional hook. The latter emerges by combining two things you’re ok at to create a small niche where only you are the best at. Example: becoming an archivist of Eskimo rappers or an author of birthday cake poems. Crazy stuff no one dreamed of before you made yourself the best.
I tell people to do this in their careers as well: Combine a past accomplishment with an aptitude you have now that could exponentially increase the value of that existing accomplishment in the future. This combination is your best next career.
As an example, I nearly starved trying to develop content for insane and obsolete technology in the 90s –– until I went to Boston University to get a masters in English just as the Internet emerged. Then I left academia and positioned myself as a person who knows how to write for the Internet. I didn’t really know how to do that, but no one else did either, so I could be the best at it.
Similarly, earlier this year I spent two months coaching a CEO of a cryptocurrency company and inadvertently became a blockchain maven. So, I combined that with PR – a common job for which I have uncommon talent. And I landed a gig in blockchain as a publicist and earned roughly $400/hr.
Ironic ending: I can’t actually handle helping my kids reach their fantastic goals and while doing my fantastic job. So, I am not earning money publicizing bitcoin; I am earning money publicizing my ability to help kids meet big goals. Well, hopefully earning money. Because you are hopefully signing up for this course.
Here’s an outline of the course:
Day 1: Strategy
What’s the best way if you’re early? What’s the best way if you’re late?
The proven paths of least resistance that no one likes to share.
Detailed plans that work, and detailed plans that don’t.
Day 2: Execution
Overcome roadblocks that derail up most people.
How to change the plan as your kid changes, without undermining the work you’ve done.
Make sure you’re in the loop – build a network to collect information from other parents.
Day 3: Q&A
We can talk about specific issues you have.
We can debate broad, philosophical questions.
We will all learn from each others’ questions.
The cost is $95 and meets 9-10pm Eastern Oct. 2-4.
There will be no recording.