The Social Side of College Admissions

The Power of the Unexpected

June 18, 2009

I was at a meeting the other day for folks working to improve access to college for New York City students. It was our annual wrap-up meeting before summer break and, as is tradition, we brought in a speaker to talk to us and provide a little motivation for the work we do.

He was fabulous. He captivated the audience, made us laugh, brought tears to some people's eyes, and left us all feeling good about the work we were doing. Just what we all needed.

How'd he do it? First, he didn't just try to hammer home the importance of college for low-income students or fire stats at us about the value of education. He told his story. He shared his own personal experience growing up in the projects, making his way to college, and eventually becoming a principal at a NYC middle school. But that's not all.

He did the unexpected. He grabbed our attention by sharing a wild story about how, as a third grader, he zipped up a little too quickly after going to the bathroom and ran out of the restroom to his teacher for help. If we weren't listening before, this story definitely got us all tuned in. Then, he told us another story about being in the Peace Corps and taking out his contacts in the home of a woman in a remote African village. She mistook the scene for him actually taking out his eye and ran around her hut screaming in terror. That's not all. He assumed she was running because she had just seen a lion approaching the hut and proceeded to run after her, figuring she knew the best way to escape. We were all conjuring in our minds how the whole scene would look.

At this point, we were all hooked. We wanted to hear what crazy tidbit he had to share next. We all knew it would be something wacky and, most likely, hilarious.

Share Your School's Wacky Quirks

Is your school sharing the same stories as every other school? Are you touting the strong academics and wonderful campus that every other school claims to have? Think about what makes your school unique, maybe even a little quirky, and share it. Pique a prospective student's curiosity with a story about a crazy tradition your school has. Grab their attention with a unique, unexpected opportunity your school offers. Maybe you have a course entirely devoted to The Beatles or to Star Trek. These are the attributes that are likely to stick out in a prospect's memory and make them curious to learn more about your school.

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Blogger Andrew said...

Ah, the power of the unexpected. We definitely need to share our wacky stories. Thanks for sharing this.

June 24, 2009 at 12:16 PM  

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