THE COLLEGE PREP SUPERSTAR
Creating a Pathway to Success
That Any Willing HS Student Can Master
Lance W. Orndorff, MS.Ed.
Copyright © 2012 Quantum Potential Publishing
Dedicated to the Men and Women of the
_United States Armed Forces, _
_examples of the ultimate mentoring relationship. _
*TABLE OF CONTENTS *
1 Why do more?
2 How to use this book
3 Developing continuity
4 The plan: process & product
5 Student interests
6 College of choice
7 Three colleges by tiers
8 Cross reference interest w/professors
9 Company nexus with interest
10 College by professor and interest
11 Initial company contact
12 Volunteer & internship proposals
13 Key professor relationships
14 Making first contact
15 Pre-college portfolio
16 Applying to colleges
17 Grant money
18 Developing a research track
19 Non-local companies
21 Why mentors?
22 Academic v. career mentors
23 Finalize the teams
24 The way forward
The College Prep Superstar (Second Edition 2012) presents
students with what appears at first glance to be a non-traditional
methodology for life success.
This book finds its foundation in real-world common sense and is
an introduction to an education/career development structure that
develops the discipline required to begin their personal education
and career journey.
Orndorff’s Mentored Action Plan (MAP) _ _ provides a roadmap for
students to leverage all available resources towards success–now–
not after realizing that they aren’t where they want to be.
Leverage is an essential element of educational and career success.
But why do students need leverage? Orndorff enlightens students
as to what educational leverage is, how to harness it, and what the
outcome can be. Students and parents alike will do well to heed his
call to action. Why?
During my career–from leadership in the Armed Forces to
managing teams for the Fortune 100, I’ve discovered that the
primary skill of leveraging resources and following a strategic plan
transforms short-term average into long-term spectacular.
And since ultimately students are hired for one and only one
reason–a problem needs to be solved–then those students
experienced in leveraging their resources make the cut, the rest
If students are properly equipped to do that, as this book teaches
well, then all else is preordained. Demonstrating effective
execution of a plan and presentation of success is the hard part.
The College Prep Superstar gives students the intelligence, tools,
and evidence to do just that on a continuing basis.
I believe that The College Prep Superstar can, if students are
diligent in its application, put them in their sweet spot, providing
an effective means and instruction to guide students through the
documenting of these skills I speak of, and, ultimately provide
students with the advantage that few others can display.
The next hiring I do could easily include a student that has read
this book and taken it for action. And if that candidate possesses
and can display an academic portfolio as Orndorff instructs, then
my task of leveraging resources for my company would be
complete by securing that candidate’s skills.
As a corporate management leader, my responsibility is to seek out
and hire the best of the best. If more students had the opportunity
of a book like The College Prep Superstar, my pool of candidates
would be more cream and less skim milk.
My seasoned advice to students is that they capture the opportunity
to rise above the rest, to be sought after and not left over. They
should read and apply the plan in this book and create a solid
product and brand for themselves.
This book presents a plan that is a heavy life, but in the words of
the great Vince Lombardi, “the dictionary is the only place that
success comes before work. Work is the key to success, and hard
work can help you accomplish anything.”
I can add to Vince’s sentiment that working smarter along with
harder is accomplished with strategic leverage, just what _The _
College Prep Superstar lays out for students.
Edmund A. Lucke, Sr., USMC (RET)
Program Manager, Northrop Grumman
Student and parents – you are not alone!
The entire purpose of writing this book is to provide parents,
students, and student advisors with a solid, action-oriented forward
moving plan to guide a student not only through college
application success, but onward to career success.
Naming this book has had its challenges, mainly because it covers
so much territory. But that is what a strong student success plan
would do – include the various, and often disjoined, parts that
culminate into a powerful plan of action.
Yes, this plan is complex and requires each student, parent, and
advisor to take serious, often leading roles. But the benefits to the
student are life-long.
Following the tasks and recommendations of this book, any
student, even those who live and learn in the most desperate of
situations where resources are minimal and opportunities few, can
run with this plan and break free from their current status quo.
In the best of all worlds, every tenth grader, their parents, extended
family members, teachers, advisors, and mentors would have
access to this text. Then the chances would be great at least one of
the aforementioned individuals would take the lead and change the
student’s life in a dramatic way.
Pass this text along. Share it. Talk about it. Let us no longer allow
our students to settle for second best as students, second best
college experiences, and the leftovers of the employment hunt.
The responsibility to create a space, place and plan for students to
excel is one we all share, let’s get to it!
[*1 Why do more? *]
The investment in a college or technical education is one of the
most significant investments in time and money that any individual
makes in their life time.
This alone would be enough to demand that students take notice of
any plan that would increase their potential at success and
streamlines the pathway to graduation and career, but the world
that the student lives in now has become more complex and unsure
in its stability than ever before in American history.
So what can be done for the student today that will have a down-
range impact of monumental proportions?
What formula can be gifted to students that, when applied, can
position the student with an academic and career advantage of such
great magnitude that they are nearly guaranteed to join a select
group of accomplished graduates; and professionals that will place
them in demand, instead of scraping along with the masses for
what career positions may remain in the years ahead?
The Mentored Action Plan and the resulting academic portfolio is
A powerful solution
The solution for students begins with stepping back and rethinking
the long-standing tattered formula of college or technical school,
graduation, and happily-ever-after career position.
The title of this book, The College Prep Superstar, speaks to the
ability of each student to break free from the current process that
millions of American students have used for more than 75 years.
Yes, everyone is free to use that old recipe over and over again.
But, this book presumes and promotes the belief that by creating an
academic and career advantage, students will rise above the sorting
through, and fighting over, opportunity leftovers.
Therefore, in order for students to step up to the plate and make a
significant difference, these next chapters offer a solid plan for
moving forward in a way, when implemented whole-heartedly, that
promotes learners to the upper percentile of the successful, not just
locally, but nationally and globally.
The information, approach, and tactics available in this volume can
be used directly by students and others that comprise the students
What readers absorb from these pages can be passed along to any
learner, parent, advisor, or mentor. Although this plan is laid out to
be engaged by students individually, it can be managed across a
group of learners, where each participant in the group applies the
details uniquely to the individual quest.
The benefits of applying this plan go far beyond assisting each
student in achieving the goal of super-charging their education and
career. The secondary benefit is that, as each student reaches for
more and seeks to excel, an important contribution is made
towards improving the education outcomes within the country they
Both of these goals are sufficient reasons for students to “do
2 How to use this book
As students prepare to engage in the Mentored Action Plan (MAP),
leading to the development of their academic portfolio, it is
important that there be a review of the basic skills of reading a
book of this type in a way that maximizes understanding and use.
This instruction does more than enhance the reading for
comprehension, the goal should be that the reader can not only
better understand the material, but be prepared to turn the
information into an action plan.
The Three Pass Approach
1. Briefly glancing over all the pages of the document.
2. A quick read of the document from beginning to end,
consuming the text in a single, constant stream.
3. Reading for deep understanding and absorption.
Of course, students will develop their own style over time;
however using the suggested sequence is a perfect approach for a
strong start at the tasks.
The first step in consuming this book and turning it into an action
plan is to briefly glance over all the pages of the document, starting
anywhere – at the end, at the beginning, or in the middle – and
allowing one’s eyes to just glance from page to page.
If something captures the reader’s interest, they should take just a
moment to read that little piece, but not for in-depth reading.
The first goal is to allow the mind to be comfortable with the text,
line spacing, and feel of the pages, pictures, diagrams, layout, and
basic information at a bird’s eye view.
On the second pass, the student should read the document from
beginning to end, attempting not to settle on any one word or
sentence for too long, but instead, absorbing all information in a
constant flow. If the reader does not understand a phrase or a word,
that’s okay, they should make a pencil mark there and continue to
The reading should be continuous, remembering that the primary
goal is to absorb the information as quickly as possible in this
What the reader discovers is that the brain can absorb more at any
one time than one initially assumes. The brain may not absorb it in
the “aware” consciousness, but rather, information collects into the
“brilliant mind” – somewhere, somehow.
Students are encouraged to place absolute trust that their mind is
absorbing the information, even if they cannot presently recall the
information. At this point, the goal is to simply read every word,
cover to cover, in one pass.
On the reader’s third pass, they should now read for deep
understanding and absorption. During this third reading, they
should make maximum use of a marker or a pen to underline or
highlight items of particular interest or ones they do not
understand. Then, the student can return to those sections later and
research or work through those specifically marked items.
During the third pass, and while making notes, the student should
also begin to prioritize the seminal or significant points they
identified on that third pass. These priority markings can use any
scheme the reader finds useful, numeric numbers, color coding, or
Again, the student is asked to trust their instincts when prioritizing.
No two students will prioritize the same items in the same order,
and this is the uniqueness of each learner in action. The student can
refine the priority numbers as they move through the material.
Finally, from those highlighted and prioritized points, an action list
can be developed from which to schedule their first 30 days of
MAP and academic portfolio engagement.
Making three pass a habit
By using the three pass reading and learning approach with all
documentation that the student processes, they will discover a
greater ability to absorb more, retain more, learn more, and when
needed most, recall the information with greater efficiency and
The student must accept that the human mind is a sponge that
absorbs and retains everything the student sees, hears, tastes, says,
and feels. Three pass reading takes advantage of the mind’s
brilliant capacity and leads one to absorb more, retain more,
process more, and recall more for future use and success.
The presentation of the MAP and academic portfolio tasks in
separate chapters, with a loose schedule of order, is intended to
allow the student freedom in application of the information.
For some students, the timing may be just right and they begin
implementing this information during their tenth grade of high
school. But for some students, this information will find them in
the midst of their sophomore year in college.
This being the case, the tasks or chapters of this book will be
engaged in differently by each student, based on where that student
is in their education and career path.
Therefore, each chapter and task stands on its own. Although some
rely on previous tasks to be completed, one could use only
mentoring sections and nothing else in the plan to enhance their
Likewise, a student may put the college selection strategy to use in
locating and applying to a school that it optimal to accomplish
their life goals, and no other part of the plan. No matter the mix of
student use of this information, it is organized to open the range of
Students are encouraged to immediately create three ring binders
with the title of each chapter labeled across the front. The pages of
this book that apply to each chapter and task should be
photocopied and inserted in the beginning of each binder. Then as
the tasks are engage in by the student, those pages can be easily
referenced to maintain a focus on that task without getting lost in
the entirety of the book.
It is highly suggested that once the prospective mentoring team
members are identified, that students early on select one mentor to
be the task master in ensuring the student does not orphan one or
more tasks as they engage fully in others.
This plan has many moving parts, with many occurring
concurrently. The student will be advantaged by a strong task
master who can assist them in maintaining a forward movement on
all fronts and maximizing the use of this books intelligence.
3 Developing continuity
Continuity is not always easy to find or arrange in a busy world
that has many moving parts. Yet when it comes to engaging in any
long-term plan, especially one of academic and career success,
continuity is essential. From high school, to college, to career,
continuity is critical for binding the activities, strategies, and plans
in a manner that leads to success.
It is continuity of plan, purpose, and action, from a competitive
standpoint, that elevates students into the top competitive
percentile of everyone who is competing for and applying to fill
the shrinking number of decent paying positions in America and
around the world.
Historically, the current academic and career track formula is one
that involves separate, linear components. The components
typically include working for good grades in high school to
graduate, applying to college along with and like everyone else,
getting through college with an eye towards graduation, and then
finally engaging in a career search with the hopes of landing a job.
This linear, serial approach rarely reaches back or forward to
leverage what came before and what may come after. This is what
is meant by a lack of continuity.
A different way
By contrast, the Mentored Action Plan (MAP) builds bridges
backwards, forwards, in all directions, and avoids the linear
approach that divides effort and diminishes continuity.
In fact, if the plan of action presented in this book is applied fully,
the existing status-quo formula of high school, college, then job
seeking, will no longer apply. That old out-dated formula will be
obsolete directly as a result of the continuity achieved by the
By leveraging the power and presentation of the academic
passport, a fully integrated presentation of skills, experiences, and
work products, the graduate will discover that the first out-of-
college career position will be fully integrated with who they are
and what interests them. They will find it hard to discover where
high school stopped and their career began. Following this plan
will automatically place the learner in a career position that has
been created by them, for them and that fits perfectly.
Time for a healthy reality check; The _ _ MAP, and resulting
academic portfolio, are not created in a day or week, producing the
powerful impact a week later. This is not a single-dimension task,
like building a model from a kit.
The MAP takes months to develop and implement in meaningful,
effective way. This is because the plan ties together many activities
that were not previously thought of as having relationships or of
benefitting from integration into a unified plan. But this book
shows how they can and should be.
The traditional approach lacks a common thread that should run
through all of a student’s processes and activities. But a huge dose
of continuity, once introduced, initiates a coming together of
efforts and promotes an outcome that is greater than the sum of its
In comes continuity
This plan begins by weaving a thread through the seven to ten
years between high school and career. This clarifies the journey
and provides for cohesion between the several phases of life
experienced over those years. The _ _ MAP, when well executed and
taken seriously, leads to a forward movement towards success that
is rife with continuity.
Best of all, the student or young career professional feels a
substantial amount of pride in the outstanding outcomes that result
from following the plan and creating the academic portfolio.
*Critical first step *
When reading any map, without a projected destination, it is
impossible to plan the journey from point A to point B. The entire
MAP process begins with asking the student to say to themselves,
“Hey, I am in junior high school: let me pick a point six years out
there–what do I want to be doing? Where is the passion in my
heart? What do I love and want to be doing almost every day of my
The answer to that question sets a marker out there in the future
that students and their MAP team can then head for, even if the
journey zigs and zags along the way.
It truly does not matter what that thing is for the student, but it has
to be known, at least generally, for the team(s) to get onboard and
assist in structuring the student’s environment and supporting the
successful achievement of whatever the answer is to that question.
After the student chooses that point and the plan is set into action,
in concert with the entire support team, the student must seek
continuity at every turn. All evaluations and feedbacks should
include connecting the dots, not just from step to step, but by
grades and years.
For example, if a student is working on a term paper for 11th grade
history, and the end-game goal is to be a dentist, then that paper
should, if at all possible, be about a historical element of dentistry.
Or if the college junior is designing an economics project and the
goal is to be an international trade executive, the project should be
designed around an international trade thesis or question.
In both examples, the resulting paper or project can then be
included into the academic portfolio in a way that contributes to
the overall theme and life career goal. This continuity is priceless
in many ways. It makes the AP more cohesive and representative
of the expertise being developed, and the focus on career objective
contributes to the student’s subject matter expertise equity.
It is always productive to have a formula that can be used in
practical application, in this case, one that will be helpful in
following through with the continuity of the MAP. A formula is a
mathematical rule or relationship expressed in symbols.
When speaking of the Mentored Action Plan and resulting
academic portfolio, the following formula applies:
(( SE x MI ) / SOC ) = ACSP
SE: Student Effort (1 is minimal, 9 is max effort)
MI: Mentor Interaction (1 is poor, 9 is max effort)
SOC: Strength of Continuity (1 is perfect, 9 is poor)
ACSP: Academic & Career Success Potential
[_The formula above shows that a student’s effort, multiplied by _]
_interaction with their mentors, and divided by the wholeness of the _
_continuity of approach, results in an academic and career success _
_potential score. _
If there is no continuity in the approach, all the best efforts by all
concerned are minimized, no matter how much they want to help.
But when all elements are maximized, the potential of the student
Students should share this information with their mentors. It is
important that mentors know how they impact a student’s
potential. When mentors get to know each other, when they
conference about the student’s interests, projects, goals, and
progress, they are then better prepared to advise together, in a
manner that enhances continuity.
You are probably beginning to see how the framework of the MAP
works. When the traditional elements of learning, college planning,
and career development are synthesized into an integrated,
systematic operation, the student’s efforts are leveraged and the
outcomes are multiplied.
4 The plan: process & product
Moving students from the status quo to a position of education and
career advantage demands a process and a product. The process
makes the “the way” and the product creates a professional
The pathway put forth in the pages ahead is the Mentored Action
Plan (MAP). The product resulting from application of the process
is the academic portfolio.
The MAP creates the framework to work through, and the
academic portfolio is the product, or portfolio, of the student’s
academic and professional efforts. The MAP is the way forward,
and the academic portfolio is the resulting portfolio of excellence.
Here is the Mentored Action Plan schematic:
Figure 1: Mentored Action Plan (Orndorff, 2011)
The MAP is what this book utilizes to corral the student’s activities
to ensure that there is a rudder function to maintain a forward,
productive, feedback-fed movement.
Although the student must work through the initial chapters of the
book before formulating their mentoring teams, accomplishing
some of the vital tasks prior to selecting a team introduces the
student to the caliber of people they will want on their teams,
drivers of the process leading them to the highest levels of success.
MAP is a series of tasks that leads the student to think about
interests, to research colleges of interest, to explore the associated
professors, and to explore potential employers within areas of
MAP activities provide a broad-based experience that students find
interesting, even if the academics don’t turn them on. Then, having
the requisite parts to “feed” the mentoring teams, students move
forward and select mentors.
The mentoring teams, via feedback or direct intervention, guide
and support the student in the process of formalizing their research
and academic activities into the previously mentioned academic
After students begin the process of researching, collecting data,
organizing experiences and past projects, and start to produce
unique products themselves, the beginnings of the academic
The academic portfolio can be expressed as a super-expanded
action resume. Unlike a resume that is a stripped down listing of
who, what, where and when, the academic portfolio is a more
tangible example of what the student or career professional has
It is a portfolio of projects, letters, research, published writings,
videos, recordings, and any other material that displays, in a very
real way, the academic and professional capacity and potential of
When a student or career professional presents their academic
portfolio to a prospective college, employer, partner, or other
interested individual or organization, it speaks of success in ways
that no resume ever could. It presents a live demonstration of the
student or career professional’s capacity to contribute in very real
The portfolio represents what the student or career professional can
actually do. Products speak louder, and with more authority, than
It is by effort of the student or career professional, along with
guidance from the mentoring teams, and following the MAP, that
results in academic success and the development of a powerful
When reviewing the table of contents of this book, one will notice
that it is not sectioned according to top-level topics such as
admissions, corporations, universities, professors, and mentors.
This is by design, not oversight.
For this plan to be effective the student must handle several
parallel activities, all while cross referencing and integrating them
at the appropriate points. In fact, that is the underlying premise of
the entire MAP process–that the traditional modality is wholly
linear and lacks continuity and integration of efforts and focus.
That is why following the plan will result in a much richer,
The balance of this book describes the activities that, although
presented individually, provide continuity between academic
efforts and career development in a way never before arranged or
presented. It is an aggressive plan that will challenge all students to
bring more to the table than just a vision of the next semester. It is
a vision for their entire future as professionals.
To review, the process is the MAP and the product is the academic
portfolio. And the power of the plan is in the multi-track approach
to exploring interests, schools, professors, potential employers, and
setting in place mentoring teams. Together, all elements work
towards supporting the student’s navigation, motivation, and
The phrase “heavy lifting” is appropriate when reviewing the
Mentored Action Plan and advantage strategy that is presented in
this book. But as the student moves through the process and tasks,
the advantages and incremental success that follows quickly
encourages the student, and the student’s support network, to
progressively move forward.
The task list provided below also represented by the earlier MAP
schematic, lists predecessors, where appropriate, for each task. The
predecessor is nearly the same as a prerequisite in college.
The difference here in is that the student is monitoring their own
progress and no external force will restrict the student from taking
on tasks where they have not accomplished the predecessors.
Yes, the student may be stranded in their ability to accomplish the
task, but they will be making their own decisions as to whether
they should prematurely engage.
Therefore, it is highly recommended that the student address the
predecessor task listings and not move forward with a task without
the basic predecessor having been, at the least, solidly started, even
if not complete.
What follows is the task list. It may appear overwhelming to some
students and to others, an exciting challenge. No matter what the
reaction, it is meant to be a guide.
As with all things the student will do during their academic
experience and career, there must be some latitude for a tailoring
of the program and plan to meet the particular student’s needs. It is
best to focus on the desired outcomes at the expense of the exact
The plan outline
The Student Multi-track Mentored Action Plan and academic
portfolio plan and pathway
A. Identify one’s specific interests (no predecessors)
B. Research the colleges that specialize in those interest areas
(A is a predecessor)
C. Research professors at those colleges that specialize in
one’s area of interest (A, B are predecessors)
D. Choose three schools from three tiers of admission
difficulty. (high, medium, and low) (A-C are predecessors)
E. Narrow the college choices to one from each tier of
admissions difficulty (A-D are predecessors)
F. Develop relationships with the professors specializing in
the one’s interest in the colleges selected (A-F are
G. Research companies that deal in the areas of interest near
where one lives and has attended or is now attending high
school. (A is a predecessor)
H. Research companies that deal in the one’s area of interest
that is local to the final college choices. (A – E are
I. Identify leaders in those companies and developing
relationships (G and H are predecessors)
J. Publish in the one’s area of interest (A is the predecessor)
K. Select and organize an academic mentoring team (A – D are
L. Select and organize a career mentoring team (A is a
M. Draft the Academic & Career Passport (A is the
N. Grow the Academic & Career Passport (A, M are
As mentioned earlier, the student should begin a binder for each of
these tasks. Even if the same material in the binder is maintained
as an electronic file, which can and should be done, the point of the
physical binder is to allow for visual cues and tactile awareness of
the real nature of these tasks.
5 Student interests
As the student prepares to implement the Mentored Action Plan
(MAP), they need to get a handle on what their interests are. This
task may be more challenging for younger students that it is for the
mature adults who have more life experience and time to think
Many realize that it is no easy task for a tenth grader to think about
career or life interests, especially when dating, cars, friends, and
other teen interests are such a natural focal point. Yet, the
challenge must be taken up now, even if changes are made later.
The deep exploration of strong interests must be addressed head-
on. To just say, “I do not know, I just want to go to college some
day,” is no longer adequate and will hinder the success of the MSP.
It is very unwise to simply make a knee-jerk reactive decision and
then hope for the best.
Students and second career adults must make a serious attempt at
exploring what they really love. Millions of people re-live each
day the discomfort reality that they are not pursuing what they love
or what they have a passion for. They end up being miserable for
decades or the rest of their lives, locked in a pattern of discontent
and not reaching out for what they love.
Students must avoid getting on that path to unhappiness by
delaying the good, hard work of asking, “What do I love doing,
accomplishing, and pursuing?”
Interests may change
Sure, interests may change over time, but that does not diminish
the need to make those assessments now and figure out what
students’ interests are now. Students can begin by asking
themselves the following questions:
Am I a people person or prefer working alone?
Am I interested in social work and helping others?
Do I have an interest in law, in justice?
Does medicine and health interest me?
Is my talent at managing people, things, and events?
Am I interested in public service?
Students can make self assessments of the qualities they possess as
individuals. They can survey friends and family to gain honest
assessments and opinions of what they think the student shows an
interest or strength in.
[*Too early? *]
If there is any doubt that a student’s interests are not accessible by
the tenth or eleventh grades, then let this be a wakeup call for
Who we are, in relation to disposition, left or right brain
dominance and arts or numerical strengths, is developed in the first
several years of life.
Personality traits such, as likes and dislikes and whether one is an
introvert or extrovert, are already part of the student’s life, either
inherited through DNA or introduced via the nurturing process.
Making an honest assessment of all of these factors, students can
consider this information as they move through the interest
An excellent book, published many times over the years, is _What _
[_Color is Your Parachute? _](Bolles 2005). It is an outstanding tool
to walk students through the process of discovering their likes and
dislikes, best fit and career track, strengths, and other elements.
Students and second-career adults may find this book and others
like it, helpful guides in discovering more about themselves and
Online resources are rather new and often exciting to use. There
are many interactive surveys, assessments, tests, and other tools
that a student can use, usually for free, to gain a broad range of
Then, using these metrics, along with advice and input from
family, friends, colleagues, teachers and others, a student can
effectively narrow down the interest list to something that is useful
The bottom line is that students do need to identify their interests.
The need to get on with that task now, and should devote the
energy necessary to make it a worthy search.
Discovering a student’s deep and true interests will impact what
they choose to do for the rest of their lives. And it is a vital piece
of information they will need to move forward with both the MAP
and developing an individualized academic portfolio.
6 College of choice
There are many individuals, including students and parents, who
feel that because they do not have certain resources, special
connections, or confidence in their past grades, that they should
abandon the goal of going to the schools of their choice, even if
that school has competitive admissions. This is rubbish.
There is an approach that, when applied with exactness and
tenacity, implemented smartly, and planned and executed in
advance, will result in a student being accepted into almost any
school they choose.
Setting aside schools that have certain course/degree prerequisites
or other extenuating circumstances, getting accepted is as much, or
more, about extended relationships and tenacity as it is about
standardized university admissions metrics and targets. The rules
are often bent and set aside to meet individual student as well as
institutional needs and wants.
Each school has an application process and a specific way in which
they screen applicants. They also have their own admissions
standards or parameter.
These systems are set up to handle the masses of applications
received each year, not the unique applicants that fall outside of
those normal parameters.
Colleges must have some standard way to deal with the process in
a manner that is fair and passes the regional accreditation
examination, but that does not preclude them from making many
exceptions, and they do.
Having served in college admissions at both a regional university
and private liberal arts college, this author knows from experience
that each school establishes its own processes and standards, and
that they do make exceptions.
There are often students granted admissions through the
admissions back door. Standard applicants come in the traditional
front door, and more than a few students come in through the back
door. The formula presented in this book gives anyone who
chooses a key to both doors.
Will students have to participate with everyone else at the front
door of regular admissions? Sure, but the Mentored Action Plan
(MAP) positions students to have allies waiting for them at the
front and back doors. Is this a freebie advantage?
No, student must earn the right to use the special passage, and will
do so by way of the time and effort invested in developing special
That is why students should, ideally, start the MAP and the AP
process 36 months prior to the target college entrance date. And it
is to the student’s advantage to begin the plan during their tenth
grade in high school.
Going all the way
This is not a casual plan of action. It is bold, it is time consuming,
and at times, it can be difficult for a younger student. But, since
when do Americans back down from great challenges?
How many choices are made to just go along to get along? Well,
these days way too often. But this plan is an opportunity to get on
with a challenge that benefits the student and everyone that student
interacts with, even the nation as a whole.
The MAP college admissions process is a great example of where
tenacity and relationship building pays great dividends. The timing
is always right, no matter where someone is in their education
track, to implement this plan.
Exploring a college, the professors, and the programs, then making
visits and having discussions about college and career is
stimulating and eye opening. All the while relationships are being
built that will benefit the student in the years ahead.
Most of all, the student and everyone supporting that student will
realize that the college admissions process is not a machine to be
tamed, but instead, a relationship to be nurtured and respected.
Then, when it is time for the student to ask for entrance, the
experience is more like walking the red carpet and not the longest
Therefore, a student should do the work of this book, identify the
appropriate college based on all factors described in the next
chapters, and then with confidence and sureness, gain the keys of
entrance–front or back door–and get on with the task of enjoying
the process and the destination.
7 Three colleges by tiers
To begin the process of earning the student keys to the admissions
front and back doors, they begin by making decisions about which
schools they want to target for entrance.
There are highly competitive schools, schools that some may rate
as medium in difficultly to gain acceptance, and the least
competitive schools that offer open enrollment, where students
sign their name, pay the tuition, and are on their way.
A critical first step in the plan is to choose several schools from
each group or tier.
At the top
Which schools are in the top tier? Which are most competitive?
The annual U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of top colleges
and universities provides a great starting point.
The names of Harvard, UCLA, MIT, Yale, Stanford, Brown, and
University of Virginia top those lists year after year. Those
colleges and universities mentioned here are but a few of the top-
tier schools that are very, very competitive and difficult for many
applicants to gain entrance to.
In the middle
The middle-tier schools, such as state universities and certain
private schools, make up the bulk of American institutions.
Student’s can find additional listings of these schools on the
Open or “gentle” admissions
And, finally, there are the schools which almost anyone can enter,
if they have the time, desire, and money. These are typically
community colleges, most technical schools, and a few private
Each school serves a particular population and a particular
purpose. Whether a student goes to the top-tier, middle-tier, or
third-tier school has some impact on their career, but is not the
make or break success factor.
Generally speaking, the more competitive the school, the stronger
the impact of alumni connections and post-graduation
opportunities–but that is using the old system, not MAP.
In this new world and economy of the 21st century, students will
find success primarily through the power connections that are
developed from using this Mentored Action Plan and the quality of
your academic portfolio, replacing the traditional Ivy League
Each school has developed naturally to serve a certain academic
and career-needs profile of student. Intellect, important in terms of
grouping students for learning purposes, is only one part of a
human being and the admissions factor.
There is also personality, drive or tenacity, family support, mental
health, learning styles, and other traits and factors that impact
academic success. And schools consider these factors.
A student’s proven academic ability, as reflected in their grades
and achievements, does tend to group them into groups. Schools of
various tiers seek to attract and accept competition groups that
match closely those of their student body.
Landing in the best-fit cohort can play a major part in a student’s
success. It is good to have a handle on this concept when choosing
For example, a student named Jim recounted his experience of
shopping for a doctoral program. As a part of that process, he
attended an admissions meeting at a top-tier, Ivy League
University. During that visit, Jim had an opportunity to join a mini-
roundtable discussion with other students in the very program that
he sought entrance.
After ten minutes in that meeting, it became very clear to Jim that
he was swimming in very deep intellectual waters where it would
likely be very difficult to excel, much less tread water!
He described the other students as intelligent powerhouses, not to
diminish his own capabilities, but recognizing theirs.
This led Jim to make a choice between getting into the school for
the sake of getting in, or to continue the search to locate in an
environment where he could successfully compete.
Jim ultimately made the decision to seek learning opportunities in
an environment where his abilities were more closely matched
with his fellow students.
Could Jim have gained admission into that graduate program? Jim
says that if he had persisted, he felt certain they would have
admitted him to the program.
But would that have been wise? Would it have been a benefit for
all concerned? Jim described a voice inside of himself that said,
“Would the struggle to try to keep up intellectually with these folks
be worth my risking failure? Or worse, just being miserable?”
Jim’s self-talk answer was, “No.”
Some students, in the same circumstances, might have moved
forward towards admission. Only the student, in consultation with
their mentors and family, can make that well-informed decision.
And happily, that decision will be much easier to make once the
Mentored Action Plan is implemented. The beauty of the plan is
that it allows students the luxury of time, even years, to figure this
out, instead of minutes sitting around a table.
Despite these concerns, when students choose their college tiers,
they should not shy from shooting for the top. Students should set
their sights for the top schools, while at the same time considering
After taking the appropriate standardized tests for the school they
seek to attend, they should examine those standardized scores
closely. Then, in consultation with their mentoring committees,
make wise considerations as to which schools will be in each of
their competition tiers.
There is a delicate balance between reaching for the stars and
maintaining a healthy, real-life grounded sense about one’s
abilities. This is why it is suggested that students begin by
choosing three schools from all three tiers. The result is a working
list of nine schools that span the full range of admissions
The nine schools chosen need not be the absolute choices that
students will ultimately apply to. However, students need to have
a target group of schools narrowed down so that they can then
apply the next steps in the MAP.
Confused? This is okay. Hang in there.
How about graduate students reading this book? The same strategy
applies for them as does for junior or high school students taking
this challenge. The multi-tier plan can be applied to an
undergraduate as they prepare to apply to graduate schools.
*Not so fast *
But wait–students can’t choose the schools just yet. They should
not use the information from this chapter until they review the
information in the next chapters first. Why?
Because the process of choosing their nine schools is an integrated
process that requires them to examine their interest and the related
professors at those schools, and to do so all at the same time.
Other deciding factors, aside from programs and professors, might
include a student’s geographic mobility restrictions, finances, and
Some students will have the flexibility to follow interests and
professors more than geographic location; others may be more
driven by specific programs offered and less by geography.
Remember, this approach is more like chemistry than a simple
linear task list.
Students will choose a total of nine schools from three tiers. Those
choices will primarily be determined by what they learn in the next
Therefore, students must read through this entire book before
mapping out the journey. Then, they can create their own tailored
Mentored Action Plan that works specifically for them.
8 Cross reference interest w/professors
Students should now prepare for some very challenging
homework. This task is not going to be easy, but it will be well
worth the effort.
The task is to cross-reference their interests, job, career, and/or
profession identified in a previous chapter with the expertise of the
professors at each of their nine chosen schools. The goal is to
identify which professors at those nine schools have the same
research interests as the student’s career interest.
If the student declares, “I love how things are built. I find myself
drawing bridges all the time,” then it sounds like they have an
interest in structural engineering or engineering design.
Following their passion of how things are built, and specifically
bridges, they are then going to research the professors at those nine
schools identified in their college tier selection, and discover which
professors are teaching the courses and conducting the research
specific to engineering and bridge-building.
For each of the nine schools chosen, students will list the
instructors involved in the areas of, in the example above,
engineering, design, materials science, and other related
disciplines. For each professor or instructor discovered, they then
begin to read about them.
Students should always begin with the open-source information
available on the Internet. Students should discover who these
professors and instructors are, where they are teaching, working
and speaking, what they study and what their interests are.
Students should locate and read their doctoral dissertation or
Notes must be taken on what their body of research includes, read
the papers that they have published, and make an initial assessment
of each professor. This needs to be a close and thorough
By this time, one will begin to see the amount of work and time
investment necessary to do this task effectively. But know this–that
researching the professors is likely to be the make-or-break activity
the student undertakes to identify for themselves whether they are
going to develop the eventual relationships to access the university
that ultimately extends an admissions offer.
This is hard work. Activities like this are an investment in a
student’s future success. If one can get through this process
without dropping the ball, they will enter, study, graduate and
create a powerful academic portfolio that will open a multitude of
These activities lay the groundwork to accomplish almost anything
else that students are challenged with in the future.
*Back to the research… *
Through the professor research process, a dossier, or mini-
portfolio, is developed on each one of the professors in the
student’s interest area, at each one of the nine prospective schools
chosen earlier. The number of professors researched could be as
few as one per school, or as many as ten.
There could be five instructors of interest at one school and one
professor at the other. If one of the top schools of choice is
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a predominantly
engineering and science university, the task of picking and
choosing who to research will be a little easier in some respects,
and more difficult in others, because of the number of and
similarity among professors.
In this case, the phone can be a great tool to quickly begin
gathering information on who studies what topics in each academic
department. A couple of phone calls to the university, along with
discussions with staffers, helps to identify which professors are
best related to the student’s interest.
Most staffers who answer the call will enjoy the questions and
students will benefit from the guidance.
Although this kind of research may feel a bit awkward at first,
confidence and enjoyment of the process will increase with an
understanding of the faculty, what they teach, and what they study.
This research process is also the practice of a skill-set that is
critical for your future career.
*Interest area immersion *
This research is very much about the intelligence gathering
process. By working the process, a student’s understanding of the
language and topics in their interest area grows. There is a
culturalization process taking place as a student immerses their
attention in the jargon and foci of that particular interest area,
profession, and research body.
Dovetailing off of the bridge building and engineering example,
this may be the student’s initial introduction to the physics, design,
management, and research of bridge construction. It is true that this
kind of research can be quite challenging for a high school student,
but everyone will start somewhere and this is as good a place as
Immersion is a key factor in understanding. If one wants to learn
Spanish quickly, they take a one month intensive study course in
the Spanish speaking country.
Walking through the local markets in that country and attempting
to chat with the locals is the depth of immersion that is hoped for
in reading engineering research articles. Initially, students will not
grasp the meaning of what is being discussed. However, with
commitment and review, they soon feel comfortable and at home
with the language.
Keep in mind that, although a student may not fully follow exactly
what is going on when reading a doctoral dissertation, they are still
reading the words and being introduced to that language.
Within a short period of time, they will go from zero to some
knowledge, enough to begin following topics and research across
professors and schools. When that light bulb goes on, and it will,
they will feel an amazing jolt of excitement and accomplishment.
This task of researching the professors at the chosen schools is a
huge step forward in the MAP process. If students never went any
further in this book or in this series than to engage in this task, they
will still transform their future academic performance and
Dare I mention that all this research may lead one to abandon their
Research is about achieving a clearer
understanding. They might find that the initial topic of interest
isn’t what they thought it would be. But, once discovered, even by
trial and error in this task, they will have saved themselves wasted
time and effort in the future.
Imagine that a student engaging in this research in the tenth or
eleventh grade discovers, “Oh no, it is not the mechanical
engineering of bridge building that I’m so fascinated with, it is the
landscape and aesthetics of the bridge that is the most interesting.”
This discovery might then take the student into an area that may
still be design based, yet is a different aspect of design, far from
the physics of metals and structural mathematics.
Or maybe it is that risk management and safety are of more
interests. And all of this can be brought to the student’s awareness
by reading the research and other published papers of the faculty.
The end result is that the student can feel more confident about
their interest selections.
The benefits of this research are clear, not only which professors
specialize in the student’s interest area at which schools, but even
more importantly, true interests in certain topics.
If the primary purpose of an education endeavor is to form a
foundation for a productive career that is also satisfying deeply
held interests and likes, then the tasks of this chapter will have
taken you much closer to achieving that goal.
Non-research based schools
What about community colleges and other non-research based
institutions and the special challenges of researching faculty there?
The responsibilities of the faculty at community colleges and
technical schools are very different from those in the university
environment. At a community college, for example, the faculty’s
primarily focus is on teaching–not conducting research and writing
It is not that community college faculty does not engage in
research or publish–they do. However, at most community
colleges and technical schools, there is little to no requirement to
engage in research and to publish academic papers.
As a result, students may experience difficulty in locating articles
and research written by instructors at the community college level.
This makes the research a little tougher at the lower tier. The
instructors will all have some type of “terminal” degree and will
have written something in their area of expertise. The student will
have to just dig a little deeper to locate examples of their work or
Academic portfolio foundation
Once the research has been completed, it is important to maintain
the portfolio of professors and their research, including the notes
on which professors’ research best matches the student’s interests.
Getting into the habit of cataloging and archiving research is very
Everything discovered can be used in some way in a career. And
all of the information will be for the foundational start of the
9 Company nexus with interest
Exploring companies near the neighborhood where the student
lives, companies that offer services or create products related to the
student’s interests, is the next task.
Even if the student intends to attend a school that is out of their
current area, it is important to keep an eye on local companies so
that when the student returns home for the summer, opportunities
for employment and internships are enhanced.
The issue of location may shift a little depending on a student’s
specific circumstances. If in high school, the student should
choose a business, organization, or government agency that is
close to where they are living most of the year.
If the student is in college, they have the flexibility of exploring
businesses near where they want to spend their summers.
Or, a student may want to focus on researching companies in areas
where they ultimately want to live after college.
In any case, the purpose of the task is to explore potential
businesses that, like the professor search, match the student’s
For high school students, identifying a business or agency local to
home does not necessarily tie them to that business after college.
But it does mean that a student can establish a relationship with the
corporation at that location, which might then provide a bridge to
the corporation’s locations elsewhere in the country.
While the student is in high school preparing for college, or in
college preparing for graduate school, the purpose is to identify a
local company where they can begin the relationships.
When they come out of the other end of the Mentored Action Plan
(MAP), by design they will have not just a job, but a firm footing
and a pathway of success within a career path of choice.
The position that the student eventually lands will not be a result of
them begging and scratching for employment along with all the
other graduates, but instead will have been the result of existing
relationships with the companies which will benefit them for many
At that point, graduation will be more a marker of progress, and
less a radical change of life leaving them wondering what to do
It is important to begin the process now of identifying those
companies, organizations, or government and non-governmental
agencies in their geographical area that match their interests.
Growing an information portfolio
As this is a research task, they will maintain a portfolio of the
information they gather on each company that matches their
Many helpful resources for discovering those businesses can be
found on the Internet. Google Places is a great place to start. When
they enter their keyword of interest, it will identify businesses in
the student’s geographical area that are related to those keywords.
Making calls to the local Chamber of Commerce is also a useful
activity. The Chamber staff will be of great help in matching
students with businesses that match interests.
Students should not only make calls, but meet the people at those
businesses. It will be through interviews that the student will be
able to identify if the company is engaged in activities that match
Some will not have to look any further than a mile away; others
might have to look further. But the search area should be close
enough to home so that the student can access that company with
ease. Students should ideally be able to drive, bike, or use public
transportation to access the firm.
The bottom line is that students need to access those companies
whose business or products create a Nexus, or dissecting line, with
the student’s identified career interests.
And by doing this, it allows for early student exposure and access
to businesses and individuals who in many ways represent the
student’s chosen future endeavors.
*10 College by professor and interest *
After students research professors within their nine schools of
choice, they now need to invest the time needed to evaluate the
professors reviewed. The examination process can be lengthy,
depending on the available information on each professor.
The examination need to be one that will, through the process,
reveal commonalities between the professors professionally and
the student’s interests. The research will reveal intersections of
common interest points where all of the research on professors and
schools and interests cross in interesting and apparent ways.
Based on this collection of information, it is then time for the
student to make a global information analysis and begin to narrow
choices of schools.
At the end of this selection process, the student will have narrowed
the list from nine schools down to three. The student will use their
research of professors, including the professors interests,
accomplishments, publishing, and other data, to cross-reference
how it all relates to the student’s interests, and narrow the student’s
list of prospective colleges.
Where students once had a list of three schools from tier one, three
from tier two, and three from tier three, the list will shrink to
include only one from each tier. For some, this will be a difficult
Students may be tempted to modify this plan or set their sights on
only three middle tier schools, ignoring the other tiers.
However, students are advised to follow the plan as it is described
in this book. If students must change their selected schools later
based on circumstances, they can. But for now, they should follow
While making choices, students should consider each of the
professors and the breadth of their experience, as well as
publishing in the student’s areas of interest. This is important
because soon the student will be contacting the professors at those
colleges and speaking with them about their work and research.
In preparation, students will have already read the target
professors’ articles, research, and books in order to prepare for
discussions with them about their work.
And this task is not just about the professors, but also about how
well the school matches a student’s interest. Does the school itself
specialize in their area of interest?
Or is the student’s area of interest only a minor program at the
college? The answers to these and many other questions may or
may not be a deal breaker when choosing the school, but they all
need to be considered.
Remember, the goal of this chapter’s task is to narrow the list of
schools. And to do that, it requires taking into consideration all the
factors mentioned above.
And when the process works, the student will discover that they
have a short list of schools, which then naturally creates a short list
of professors within their interest area. And then the student is
ready to begin making contact with professors and establishing
relationships. _ _
11 Initial company contact
In a previous task, the student identified local companies,
organizations, or agencies close to home that do business in the
student’s interest areas. It is now time to take yet another big step
This chapter’s task is to begin contacting the companies and
expressing a desire to explore a potential career with them. The
goal is to develop a relationship with the companies of choice–
How does a student go about starting a relationship with a local
company that matches their career interests?
Depending on the size of the student’s community and their
connections within that community, the first order of business is to
identify the highest ranking person in the business, at that
particular location. The title of the highest ranking position makes
no difference, as long as you are seeking out the leader.
Once the most senior person at that location is identified, the
student can then begin the process of making an appointment to
meet with that professional.
If at all possible, students should be persistent in securing an in-
person appointment, and not just a telephone meeting. Speaking
face-to-face is always preferable to speaking over the phone or in a
When calling to get that appointment, the student should inform
the secretary exactly why the meeting is being requested. Students
should make clear that the reason for the meeting is that as a high
school student or freshman in college, they are seriously
considering choosing a career in (insert your interest here) and that
she/he may have some insight to share.
If chemistry is a functional part of the company, you can say
“I would love to have just a ten minute conversation with the
President of your company because this is an important step for
me. I’m getting ready to make a big choice that is going to affect
many, many years of my life, and I would like to know if he would
be good enough to sit with me just for ten minutes so I can ask
some questions and get some guidance to get me off to a good
Company leaders have many people knocking on their doors
wanting jobs, business deals, and dozens of other demands. This
limits the amount of their valuable time to guide a student or a
mid-career person who’s changing careers. But, most will admit
that it is a joy for them to stop their business schedule and address
a young potential leader.
It is an opportunity they will gladly engage in. They will accept is
ass a break away from their daily grind. For many business leaders,
they would say that it is the highest calling, to step out and assist
others in finding their way in the world. Leaders want to do that for
students and career seekers. Therefore, work to get the
appointment with the top person at that facility and at that location.
Doors of opportunity
Once the student is in the meeting, one of the most important
things they want that business leader to do for them is to open
doors of opportunity within their company. Students should ask,
“Who here at the company could I begin a relationship with, to
speak to on occasion, and to get some guidance and mentoring
from as I move forward in this process? Can you name three
people here at the company that it would be great for me to
They’ll give the names. Then as the student wraps up their
meeting, if the leader does not already offer, the student should
ask, “Will you contact those three individuals and just let them
know that I’ll be getting in touch with them?”
Once this happens, the student will have a relationship with that
leader and company. Then, it is about nurturing the relationship
It is vital that the student not ask the company leader to do
anything except to provide some feedback, connections, and
guidance. One should make it clear that they are not there to ask
for money or a job, but instead asking that the leader share their
wisdom and contacts. This task begins a very important part of the
work that this series relies on – relationships!
This is an example of the MAP system where the student is
literally opening a gateway from where they are now to the other
side of college and into a career.
By developing that relationship, students are literally creating their
own back door into that company – just as they will with college
If students want to appear well informed during the meeting, they
can drop names of the professors they have been studying and how
their work relates to what that company does.
Students should make the meeting leader aware that the student has
been studying the professors in the area where they want to study
and develop a career.
The student might say, “I read Dr. Johnson’s book on metallurgic
physics and the impact that it is going to have on our economy. I
imagine that it will impact your operations here as well.”
The student’s research will naturally increase topic awareness and
professional understanding. This knowledge can be used as a
foundation for conversation with company leaders with at least
enough knowledge to convey the serious nature and purpose for
the visit. Talking “shop” will show that the student has at least a
starting knowledge of the shop language.
The conversation might include, “My goal is to go to the
University of Texas. I understand that Dr. Bob Smith and Dr. Janet
Johnson in their Chemistry department have been doing special
research in metallurgic physics. I’ve have a real interest in that area
and I am looking forward to possibly applying to school there and
participating in that research.”
With such conversations, the student is exposing a level of
knowledge as well as confirming for the business leader what their
interests are and what goals they have set.
And then when the student talks to those people within the
company that they were referred to, and do so with the same topic-
centered language, the momentum builds.
Through this activity, students genuinely develop solid
professional relationships. And if fortune is on the student’s side
that day, one of the professionals may make the greatest offer of
all, “I will be your mentor.”
12 Volunteer & internship proposals
After the student has invested at least two months in their new
business relationship, and taken the time to get to know more about
the company, its products and services, and leadership, then the
time is right to create a volunteer or internship proposal.
While preparing this proposal, keep in mind that at all times, it
should be crafted to serve them and not the student. The purpose of
the proposal is to initiate the integration process with that firm.
Although the proposal will involve give and take, teach and learn,
serve and be served components, the primary goal is to position the
student as an “insider” within the company’s four walls.
The outcome will have a greater impact compared to what can be
accomplished on the outside through interviews, lunches, and
As an insider, the student has an opportunity to develop lasting
relationships with staffers, vendors, and customers. Further, the
student will enjoy a close-up position to observe the company’s
business processes and culture.
Relationships and content knowledge that emerge from the
experience will serve the student and contribute to their long-term
academic and career success.
The proposal content is determined by whether the student submits
it unsolicited (without company request) or if the company makes
a direct request of the student that a proposal or letter of intent be
If the company makes the request of the student, then the student
should follow with a request for clarification and requirements.
But, if the student is submitting this unrequested, then the
following guidelines will be helpful.
Typically the proposal will land on the desk of a “gatekeeper” who
has the vital responsibility of deciding what moves forward and
what hits the rubbish can.
Therefore, an inviting, crisp, short, to the point document, full of
humility and pre-delivered appreciation, will attract much more
success than a heady, “I deserve this” type of document.
Upon receipt, the proposal will likely be forwarded on to whoever
needs to receive it and take action. If the student has invested the
time and effort in developing the initial relationships throughout
the company with interviews and other interactions, the proposal
will grow legs and make it through the organizational channels to
the decision maker.
One way to ensure that the proposal makes its way through the
company is for the student to alert their new contacts that the
proposal forthcoming. Making an announcement that a proposal is
being prepared can illicit from them a specific channel through
which to send it.
And better yet, the student’s contact may request to review the
proposal first. If this occurs, the student will receive a great
advantage over others who may not have had that opportunity.
Another way to alert them is to mention it at a meeting. During a
lunch or follow-up formal interview about what they do at the firm,
towards the end of the meeting, the student should say, “By the
way, I will be preparing and sending a proposal to offer my efforts
through an internship or volunteer position, and I’d like you to
have a head’s up and be looking for it. Is it possible that you can
look it over and send it on to whoever can benefit from it most?”
If the student has developed a solid initial relationship with that
particular person, or several individuals at that company, then they
will already be primed and ready to receive the proposal. They will
be expecting it.
Anatomy of the proposal
The proposal should be simple, nothing more than a formal, “What
can I do for you?” document.
The proposal should not be more than one page in length. One
page. One page. Do I need to say that again? One page. The
reader’s initial task in processing the proposal must be able to
receive, open, and read it quickly; they should with ease
understand fully what the request is and whom they should direct it
One suggestion is to make the proposal a letter, a personal letter
addressed to the company or division president, the first person the
student met, the individual that you have been meeting with, or
simply to the Human Resources Department.
Here are two basic examples:
Dear Ms. Samantha Jones [or Dear Human Resources Director]:
[_My name is [insert your name here] and I’ve had the opportunity _]
_to engage in relationships with your company over the last _
[_[months, years.], I have a great interest in providing some service _]
_to your firm, while gaining learning experience for myself. _
_I am open to whatever arrangement works best for you. This may _
_take the form of an internship or volunteer opportunity. My goal is _
_to learn more about your company such as your purpose and goals _
_and to learn more about what you do. I feel that this will help me _
_greatly as I prepare for college and a career. _
[_I will call you to follow-up on this initial contact in three days and _]
_look forward to discussing the possibilities. _
[_My name is [your name here], and I am interested in a volunteer _]
_or internship opportunity with your company. I have been having _
[_conversations with [whomever you have been speaking to] and I _]
_find your company and how it serves the community very _
[_The section of your company that interests me the most is [put that _]
[_info here]. I’m proposing that I conduct a small research or _]
_service project for you so that we can know each other better and _
_you can see how I approach a task. _
[_I’m confident that it would be a worthwhile opportunity for me to _]
_work with you in whatever capacity is a best fit. _
[_You can expect a follow-up call to this proposal in three days. I _]
_look forward to speaking to somebody about this soon. _
Introduction vs. proposal
Within the proposal, the student is proposing to come into the
company and work for free, or for pay if they have a paid
internship during the summer. Since this is not the student’s initial
contact with the firm, it is not simply an introduction letter, it is a
Keep in mind that there is purpose in submitting a written, formal
proposal. When the student follows a formal process for the
proposal, they assist their new company allies and others within
the organization to work as partners in making the internship or
volunteer position a reality. The formality and written nature
makes the request very portable and sharable. The entire company
team can then utilize the proposal to identify or create the position or opportunity the student seeks.
And then there is the follow up. The proposal should state a
specific number of days in the future that a follow-up contact will
The student should not wait for them to answer back. Student’s
should be aware that the world will not drop at their feet and serve
the student…the student needs to step up and serve the world. It
should be clearly stated when a follow-up will take place. Keeping
that appointment will likely be a make or break for that
Write a one page proposal. Keep it simple. Students should avoid
jargon and use only words heard in normal conversation. Resist
phrases like “I want this” or “I want that.” Do not be pretentious.
The student should make it clear that they are not a stranger to the
company. However, they should not be too familiar. Allow the
student’s relationships within the company do the work of guiding
that proposal letter through the process to get them plugged into
The proposal should end with a next action, “You should expect a
follow-up call in three days and I’m available for a meeting on
Wednesday at 2pm, if that fits your schedule
It is a simple letter, but it has a large down-range impact for the
student’s career. Take it seriously, take it for action.
13 Key professor relationships
Professors are key
In previous chapters, the discussion was about creating a
relationship with the local businesses that are related to the
student’s area of interest.
The point was to develop the back door to employment and a
personal back door into the company’s Human Resources office.
Now is the time to explore developing the student’s back door
access to the college admissions office. The extreme power of this
step is difficult to fully express in words. It is HUGE.
The phrase “back door” may sound like the student is getting away
with something improper, or that the author is suggesting
something that is black hat in terms of admissions.
That is not the case at all. This is about using all available
resources and contacts smartly. The student is simply setting the
stage for application success in an effective way.
At this point, the student may have completed the lion’s share of
researching targeted professors. Information is powerful and the
information they discover about these professors is critical to their
overall progress with the Mentored Action Plan, as well as their
overall intelligence related to their area of interest.
The task given is to identify the professors of interest at each
school, read their research, and become familiar with as much data
that is available about each of them.
Not only does this lead students to the professors who are most
closely aligned with their interests, but the process leads students
to better understand those areas of interest in general. And finally,
it makes the student more familiar with the schools of their choice.
*Reach out *
Now the task shifts to one of outreach. It is time for students to
make contact with the professors. With the student having
completed the research on each professor and becoming familiar
with their work and interests, students now have a foundation for a
How the student fulfills this task of engaging with professors can
have a major impact on opportunities for admission into their
If the student is brilliant and maximizes their scores on
standardized tests, if they are a Presidential Scholar or some other
academically recognized student, then they may not need to use the
back door referenced in this book.
The gifted student might only need to apply and zip right in. Even
if that is the case, is there still value in the professor contact
By engaging with professors and developing solid relationships,
not only will students cement their opportunity for admission, but
they will be investing in the advancement of their career post-
graduation. Yes, that investment can and should occur as early as
tenth and eleventh grade in high school.
[*Why so early? *]
This may seem like a huge amount of time invested before the
student gets to their senior year of high school. But, this early
investment in research and relationships sets the stage to be a
“known quantity” before, during, and after college.
And being a known quantity places students and graduates in a
demand position. Therefore, it is never too early to begin this
integration process with professors, colleges, and businesses.
Professionals respect, remember, and reward such efforts.
What follows now is a first-hand account of how one student,
Mike, missed an opportunity for medical school. Was he too early
in making inroads and relationships? There is a great lesson in the
story that applies to this chapter.
In his own words
After a great tour of duty in the US Navy, I went directly into
college. For many reasons, including budget, my first year was at
a third tier school which was a community college. Within weeks
of the start of the academic quarter, I sought out an internship.
My desire was to be a medical doctor. That desire was so deep that
I was taking medical terminology classes in my first semester of
college. And when I decided I wanted an internship, of course I
headed straight to the local medical school.
No one was advising me to do or not do this, so there were some
things I did right and some things I could have done better.
However, I wanted to go to medical school and I was determined
to get myself an internship. The local medical school seemed the
logical entry point.
Picture that–a freshman at a community college, taking a medical
terminology class, in the first semester of college, walking into the
front door of the school to ask for an internship.
\After locating the reception area, I introduced myself and said I
was seeking an internship. Although I was a first time visitor, they
did not notice that fact right away and began speaking with me as
they would any other student on the campus.
“Why do you want the internship?” they asked.
“Because,” I said, “I’m looking forward to going to medical school
and this would be a great place to get a start.”
“Oh, what year are you in college?” she asked.
I’m sure she was expecting me to say I was a senior in college or
something. I said, “Oh, I just started college. I’m a freshman.” She
just smiled and excused herself, heading to another office in the
She returned and invited me to have a seat and that someone would
be out shortly. Out came a gentleman who invited me back to his
office for a chat. He asked the same questions and indicated that
although it was early for me to be seeking an internship at the
medical school, he thought they might have something for me.
A few more phone calls were made and I was instructed to head up
to the elevator to the photography department. The gentleman there
introduced himself and began reviewing what I would be doing
that semester as an intern.
Ten minutes later I walked out of his office door as a first semester
college freshman with an internship at the medical school!
It turns out that the gentleman on the first floor who made the
phone calls and sent me up the elevator to meet my internship
supervisor was the Director of the Medical School. And from that
day forward, I stopped in his office once in awhile to just say hello.
After the internship was over, I continued on in college, but I had a
tough time; I got involved in college fraternity with the associated
party activities and my grades really slipped. At the end of my first
year at the university, I failed my first chemistry class.
I was crushed by this. And worse, when I went to my advisor the
next registration period–I will not say his name, because I’m not
real pleased with him at all–and he said, “Well, you failed that
class, so maybe you should change your major. Maybe pre-med is
not a good idea for you.”
So I changed my major from science/pre-med to business
administration because my advisor advised me to do so. I did not
get a second opinion; I did not have a mentoring team to consult. I
had no relationships with professors, and relied solely on the
advice of this one advisor.
His advice was that since I failed chemistry, I should just choose
something else. So I went in a different direction, never looking
back again at my dreams of medical school.
Fast forward about four years
By this point I’m in graduate school, in my Master’s program in
Education and doing very well. It was not my initial pathway to
education and career, but one I settled on following the advice of
an advisor. Ugh.
One day, while down at the medical school, conducting some
research on the in-vitro fertilization program they are well known
for, I bumped into the Director of the Medical School–yep, same
He said, “Lance, what’s going on? We’ve been waiting for your
application to come across our desk. We’ve been looking forward
to you coming to school here.”
What I said to him was important as well. I said, “I failed
chemistry, retook it, and got a grade of “C,” and so my advisor told
me I should do something else.”
“Lance,” he said, “I failed my first chemistry class too! But I
retook the class and passed.”
Well, I about broke down and cried. It felt like I had been hit by a
very large truck. That school, that very admissions director, was
waiting for my application! I was so crushed that, to this day, just
recounting the events brings tears to my eyes; I really wanted to be
I had gone the extra mile and landed that internship at the medical
school in my freshman year, and I invested the time to start a good
relationship with the director who was expecting to see my
application to medical school.
He was ready for it and for me, but where was the failure? It was
my failure to maintain a relationship with the most important
professor on campus!
The lesson to be gleaned from my account and the purpose of this
chapter are one in the same. Students must develop relationships
with key professors within their area of interest and schools of
It should me made known to them what the student hopes to
accomplish after college. And students must maintain the
relationships so that they do not have to experience the same
disappoint that I felt.
Relationships, it is all about the relationships
When the time is right for students to apply for college admissions
or take a position at a company, all of the individuals that they
have developed and maintained relationships with will be
expecting to hear from them.
No longer need it be about trying to knock down doors to get an
appointment or an interview, instead the pathway will be about
students maximizing the relationships that they have already
Students might wonder why relationships with individual
professors are so important to admissions, even when preparing for
undergraduate education. That is a good question.
With admissions, at most colleges and universities, the
undergraduate admissions process takes place in one central
By contrast, with graduate school, the task is typically taken up by
the local academic department, in cooperation with the central
Universities and colleges are generally broken up into “colleges”
within a university–there is often the College of Education,
College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, etc.–and the
faculty plays a critical role in students being accepted as a graduate
student. But they can have equal influence if you are applying at
the undergraduate level.
The amount of knowledge, insight, and assistance students can
benefit from by having relationships with the professors extends
beyond their advocacy in your pursuit to be accepted for
They can help ensure that students are on the right track in terms of
education, career path, and professional development. And the
relationships can follow you beyond college and into professional
life. It is a win-win-win proposition.
Using the list of professors that you researched as directed in
earlier chapters, it is time to reach out and begin the relationship.
The goal is to initiate, develop, and maintain relationships for
several purposes including advocacy when it is time to apply for
Whether the student is engaging in this process in high school or as
an undergraduate looking forward to going to graduate school, the
relationships with professors will often clarify the pathway to a
career and often seal the admissions deal.
14 Making first contact
First impressions are lasting impressions. How many times has that
been said? As with all sayings, clichés or quotes, there are
circumstances when they don’t apply at all, apply somewhat, or
apply more than ever.
The student task of making initial contact with their list of
researched professors is a situation where first impressions are
monumental in importance.
The professor can, and should, remember the student’s first contact
in a very positive way. Not only should the first contact be
positive, it has the potential to establish a new relationship in a
way that results in huge rewards later on.
Preparing for the first contact with each professor must be
deliberate and carefully executed. Students have one opportunity to
announce who they are; why they are contacting the professors;
and to make a case for further contact. (This is a great skill and can
serve well during the rest of a student’s life.)
Let’s examine these three areas and explore what one might say to
get the most out of the initial contact.
The first decision to be made is whether the initial contact with the
professor is in person, by phone, email, or postal mail. An
examination of all initial modes is worth discussing.
A personal first contact is always preferred, but will be the most
difficult to arrange. This is especially true if students are not living
in the same town as the professor. But, the long-range benefits may
make the extra effort the best investment.
Telephone contact is effective, but can’t match the energy one can
deliver when in person. When making a telephone contact, keep
smiling, literally, from the moment the dialing starts through to the
There is something about smiling when on the phone that makes a
voice sound more pleasant and a mood friendlier and more open.
With both a personal visit and a telephone contact, students will
have to negotiate their way through, around, over, under, or past
the gatekeepers that protect the valuable time of the professor.
But, one should not be at all discouraged if they feel as if they are
getting the “run around.” Teachers, instructors, professors and
researchers are busy folks with schedules that would boggle most
Students should ask for the professor’s posted office hours.
Students can typically count on the professor being there during
those times. Often, if the student takes the time to sit and wait, the
professor will see them.
Professors report noticing students waiting and taking time to see
them, even when they have an appointment. So have patience and
work the process.
The student may want to become familiar with the secretaries first.
Because they have so much influence over the professor’s
schedule, starting a solid relationship with them will increase the
chances of a personal meeting.
Gaining the confidence and comfort of gatekeepers can be as
simple as smiling, courteous and sincere conversation, and asking
lots of questions.
Everyone in the office, from volunteer to administrative assistant,
department dean to interns, love people who ask questions and
absolutely abhor students who think they know it all.
Student’s should be humble, kind, and acknowledge often their
gratitude for being granted some of the valuable time of the
professor (and everyone else in the office).
Email contact is the least advisable mode, but if it is the best the
student can manage, they should use it. And when using email, use
every trick in the book to make the email exciting.
Students can create YouTube® videos and email the link as an
introduction to the professor. Then when they read the emails, they
immediately begin to know the student in a unique and positive
[*Show time! *]
No matter what mode the student uses to make the introduction,
they should begin with a simple introduction.
“Hi, my name is John Jones, and I’m planning on attending school
here one day. I’ve been doing a review of the literature regarding
my area of interest, which is microbiology, and I have read several
publications that you have written.
“Professor Brown, you cannot image how excited I was to find that
you are a member of the faculty. I would greatly appreciate it if
you could spare me a few minutes of your time in order for me to
introduce myself. I would value the opportunity.”
If the professor or secretary takes the conversation further, that is
great! Then the student should move forward. If not, then one can
follow up and say, “I do not have anything in particular I wanted to
say in this call except to introduce myself. I would like to ask if it
is okay that I communicate with you about my interests. I find your
particular study in microbiology fascinating.”
Then allow the conversation to have a natural ending. If the
professor is really busy, they might brush the student off; if they
have nothing to do, then the faculty member may be able to devote
some conversation time to the student.
If the conversation continues, the student should be honest about
how they arrived at the determination that this professor is a
valuable contact to be talking to.
The student should inform the professor or the secretary that they
have been reading and studying the professor’s work and that
you’re their interests coincide. The student can ask professor if
they have finished the project on X, Y, Z. The student should
engage in a meaningful way by making it clear they have done
What is discussed in this chapter is more than enough information
for an introduction call. Students should avoid getting too far into
the weeds when talking to faculty or support staff. They should just
lay the groundwork for future exchanges of information.
In future contacts
If this first meeting is not an in-person meeting, at some point it
will be necessary to establish a time to visit the faculty personally.
A call can be made to the professor or their assistant to say, “I’m
going to be in the area on such and such a weekend and I’d love to
stop by your office.” If that is not convenient, ask, “Do you use
Skype? Is there some way that we can have a brief teleconference
and just talk with each other?”
A student asking these questions, and doing so with confidence, is
bold. Is this too much, too fast? Maybe and maybe not, but as
students develop the relationships with the faculty, they will gain a
feel for what is about right.
Again, no one benefits from being shy, so students must push for
The meetings are not optional. If students want to be highly
competitive, if they want to chart their success course and claim a
solid career position, then fulfilling all steps of the Mentored
Action Plan system are critical.
Making contact with professors, having that first phone call and
then following-up, is very, very important and completely within
the student’s ability to accomplish.
15 Pre-college portfolio
This chapter is more than a new task to be used in working though
the Mentored Action Plan. This chapter explains a college, career,
and lifelong task that begins today and should be used until the
student expires or retires.
If the student has already worked on the chapters directing their
personal assessment or interests, they have found that they have
accumulated valuable information and a stockpile of paperwork.
This collection of research, which includes information on
professors and colleges, seeking out companies and establishing
relationships, and written volunteer or internship proposals now
needs to be organized into a working portfolio.
That is what happens when students engage in serious research and
investigative work, work product is produced. The overarching
task then is to develop and implement a plan for organizing that
information. What makes this more than just an organizational task
is that instead of preparing data to be stacked, bundled, and paper
clipped in an informal way, the student will organize and formally
present all of these findings and intelligence to be included into
their academic portfolio.
[*What is the academic portfolio? *]
An academic portfolio is a multi-format information resource,
prepared for public consumption. It tells the story of academic and
lifetime achievement in all areas of the student’s life.
It is a dynamic portfolio that presents, in depth, experiences and
contributions in a way in which the reader can discover a rich
understanding of the intellectual, emotional, and ability of the
A student’s academic portfolio will begin small and grow into
many volumes and formats. It could turn out to be five 2-inch
binder volumes with a set of DVDs, non electronic presentation
materials, books published, websites, online video collections, and
much more. It serves as a complete library of a student’s
formalized research, works, presentations, publications, academic
papers, and more.
When this task is taken seriously and continuously, a student can
then use the academic portfolio as their personal and professional
presentation. Just the fact that the student has the academic
portfolio will set them apart as unique among the billions of people
in the world.
Over time, their academic portfolio will be their complete,
comprehensive, cohesive story of publications, accomplishments,
intelligence gathering, experiences, contributions to clients and
employers, and display of capacity to be of great value in the
marketplace and society.
Where to start
Students can be easily overwhelmed by the task. But the approach
to this is no different than if they were asked to count and sort the
grains of sand on a beach according to shades of beige.
It all begins with a few empty binders and a huge dose of patience.
Taking action in a continuous manner with the intent to maintain
the AP, is critical to attaining the desired outcome.
A great place to start is in gathering, recording, and organizing the
student’s pre-college works–a collection of activities and
accomplishments before college. Since the student did not have the
advantage of knowing about this opportunity earlier in their life,
they will be working backwards to collect this data.
The task can be started in the same way one might prepare if asked
to write an autobiography. An outline is created that covers time
periods or chapters in life. Within each of those periods of time,
students record what they did, where they went, what experiences
they had, what the student learned, and even tasks that failed and
Then, where appropriate, a student can assign any physical
evidence, product, news article, web printout, photo, piece of art or
Focus and continuity
From the day the academic portfolio is started, the student can then
use the lesson of continuity to dovetail and grow future academic,
professional, and personal tasks so that they support the AP and
overall life focus.
In doing so, the AP serves as more than just a time capsule or
expanded diary, but as a tool for focusing all tasks, education, and
efforts towards a central vision of where the student wants to be
and the direction they need to go in to work toward a successful
Typically, when a university student enters a doctoral program,
they are instructed, “From this day forward, every course you take
and every paper you write should focus on or point toward the
This advice is also given in most other advanced degree programs
as well. Since many have a practicum or internship, there is often
opportunity to direct the topic of research and writing.
That advice is also appropriate for students in their tenth year of
high school – to focus their academic products toward their area of
The process of a graduate student pulling together a capstone
project, thesis, or dissertation includes many similar tasks. They
begin with a survey of what others have said and done relating to
the topic, often called the literature review.
One can see the value of beginning this process in high school and
following the practice all the way through the final degree.
With the academic portfolio, the student themselves are the topic
and the passport becomes a perpetual review and record of all that
the student creates, accomplishes, and completes.
Instead of being a review of the literature about a topic, the
academic portfolio is an ongoing review of the student.
Beginning today, no matter how young or old the student is, they
must make a personal commitment that everything they do from
this point forward will connect in some way with their final career
goal. And the academic portfolio is the container that stores,
organizes and presents that body of work.
If the student’s interests are in metals, and they are in their
eleventh history class studying ancient Egypt, they can focus the
writing assignment on how metals were used during that period.
The paper could compare the difference between metals of that
period with metals of today. Or it could examine how an
archeological dig would be able to discover whether a piece of
flatware came from ancient Egypt, the 1850s, the 1920s, or from a
department store two years ago. This is about topic and interest
If a student engages in writing and research tasks and prepares
them in a way that considers its inclusion in the academic
portfolio, then by the time they become a freshman in college, they
will have combined a portfolio of work and experiences This
narrative of accomplishments, supported by associated media, will
set them apart from any other students within their competition
The student’s academic portfolio will demonstrate that they are an
expert in the making and that they are taking their interests
seriously. They might be the only high school student who’s a
member of the metals professional association, reading the
associated journals, and has a portfolio of professional quality. But
the advantage of this activity is clear.
When an opportunity is presented by a university, corporation, or
private organization, the submission of the academic portfolio will
be persuasive in making the student the clear and unambiguous
That is power.
Leg-up at college admissions
Imagine the student is walking into an admissions interview at a
college or university and in their hand is a business card that
displays the URL of the on-line accessible academic portfolio.
The interviewer or committee asks, “Tell me something about
yourself that would let me know you will be an asset to College
X?” or “What makes you different from the last applicant I last
The student’s ticket in, the key to that admissions door, may very
well be the business card the student hands the counselor that
includes the URL or the physical briefing and outline of the
student’s academic portfolio. A presentation of that nature will
blow the socks off of any interviewer or committee.
The goal remains to surpass everyone’s expectations so that the
question is not “if” the student will be accepted, but when. No
other applicant will be as prepared as the student who has an
academic portfolio. They will stand heads above all the rest.
And as a bonus, if the student has physical or mental disabilities, if
they feel like their gender, race, ethnicity or economic status might
be a road-block, walking into any opportunity with the level of
preparedness that comes with building an AP makes all feelings of
Having an AP can level the playing field and make the student the
most sought after guy or gal in town, and possibly in the world.
Begin a habit
The student should begin to develop their academic portfolio
immediately. They can start pulling information together by
digging through the box of papers they keep in the closet.
Hoarding is keeping junk that is not worthwhile, while creating an
academic portfolio is keeping all papers and related interest-related
materials in an organized, useful manner.
Every student should become a historian of their own academic
and professional contributions and progress. They need not worry
at first how it is organized.
One can start by punching three holes into those documents, or put
them into plastic sliding pages, and file them into a binder.
The student should ask this question: “What have I been doing?
What are my special projects?”
Then with those answers in hand, begin to write stories about, take
pictures of, and collect other evidence that represents those
This is a foundational task that students can make a part of their
daily tasks. This is an opportunity to begin a new habit. All of their
activities and everything they do will be included. And each time
they start something new, they can refer to their academic portfolio
and focus those tasks on what they’ve done and want to do.
Students should begin to develop their academic portfolio today.
16 Applying to colleges
If the student is ready to apply to college or graduate school and
begin the application(s) preparations, the research they have
completed in the previous chapters makes that task not just easier,
but rational and well planned.
Many college applications request that students prepare an essay.
Unlike other students completing the same application, when the
application asks the typical essay questions, students that have
followed the Mentored Action Plan (MAP) are prepared to answer
And to add additional value to that essay and application, the
student is positioned well to provide supporting examples and
documentation where appropriate. This may be the student’s first
opportunity to experience the full benefit of the MAP.
If the application asks, in fill-in-the-form or essay format, “What
have you been doing the last couple of years?” the student uses
their academic portfolio as a reference guide to list their volunteer
activities, associations they are active in, workshops attended, etc.
The student is prepared to present significant data, because they
have been accumulating it and are prepared to deliver the
information in a meaningful way.
Because the student followed the tasks of this book and has already
been researching, experiencing, engaging, writing and potentially
working in their area of interest.
There are two ways a student can react to being presented with an
application to be completed–as a pain in the neck addition to their
already long daily to-do list, or more wisely, as an opportunity to
review, refine, and add important data to their academic portfolio.
The more a student “touches” their academic portfolio, refining
and improving the data, the better it will serve them in all areas,
not just college applications.
Now it is time to get down to work and to prepare a clean, crisp,
and accurate application. Those professionals working in the
university admissions offices find it frustrating to begin processing
an application, only to find that the applicant was careless and
failed to fill in a blank or provide supporting documentation.
When that happens, they have no choice but to close the file and
place it on the “incomplete” stack. No telling how long it will
Creating a detailed checklist, even more detailed than the one that
might actually be provided online, is useful. If the application is an
online electronic experience, creating the outline can be a
challenge to prepare, especially if the application is presented
screen by screen.
If the student can move through the screens and print out all of the
questions, that is preferred. Then, they can use those screen-prints
as a guide to create their outline. No matter how the student creates
the checklist, it must be accomplished.
Quick start checklist
Before the student begins completing the application, they should
move through the list to ensure that they have the required
information for submission. If more than 5-10% of the checklist is
not complete, they should not start with the online or paper
Students should first discover all the answers to the unknowns.
They can then move to the application, placing their answers on
the outline allows time for the student to consult their academic
Consistency in all that students do, especially when it comes to
completing applications for school, work, and even security related
positions, is critical. Many data systems share information, and
when data does not match, it can have a huge impact on desired
outcomes. Students should take advantage of the data in their
academic portfolio, having saved copies of previously submitted
data, to ensure correctness and consistency.
Sharing the application
Now is the time for the student to maximize the relationships that
have been developed with their new professor friends at the
university they are applying to. Why not? After all, they know the
Students may want to pick up the phone – not email – and ask the
professor if they are willing to look over the application. Why not
email? Simply put, students don’t ever want to provide a paper trail
that someday can be used against the student or professor. There is
no need to ask that question via anything other than a voice call–
And who better knows the process? These professors that the
student has befriended, and in some ways colleagues with, are
“insiders.” They have a vested interest in the student being
Once the student has permission from the professor and they feel
their application is ready for submission, print or electronically
save a copy and email it to the professor. Their feedback can make
or break the student’s chances, and they feel honored to be asked
to review it.
This professor review approach takes on even greater significance
at the graduate school level. Students have been busy learning
about each professor, what their research is about, and chosen them
as partners in their success.
Professor buy in
By the student sharing the application with them, and the professor
giving feedback, the professor now has a vested interest in the
student’s success at gaining access to the university.
Is there a chance that the professor will not want to review the
application? Yes, there is that chance. But there is an 80 to 90
percent chance that they’re going to give the student feedback
about their application; They always feel good about doing so.
They might advise “I wouldn’t say something this way,” or “It is a
little strong,” or “Maybe you need to say more about this or more
about that.” This is all fantastic feedback.
No matter what the response, the student should ensure that
wherever possible, they have allowed the professor to be a part of
the application process.
If the student is applying to go to College X and their relationship
is with a College X professor, then that professor is the one who
should be looking at the College X application.
If the student has developed a relationship with that professor, it
will be an easy request to make. That professor is going to want to
do that for the student because they want the student to attend their
This isn’t like a trick or scam. The process shows that the student
is actually very interested in what the professor does and at that
college. Professors enjoy students who are interested in what they
do. Who wouldn’t?
After making all the necessary additions, corrections, and deletions
and ready to submit the application, the student should notify the
professors and other key relationship staff at the college that the
documents have been submitted.
By notifying the professors and others with whom they have
developed relationships, they can be on the lookout for its arrival.
Many departments are large and busy and paperwork can get
shuffled to the bottom of a pile.
Having been notified, the professor can then keep an eye out for it.
Who knows, maybe that professor will call the admissions
department on the behalf of the student!
Some of the techniques and hints in this book, like sending the
student’s selected professors a copy of their admission packet, are
not illegal, immoral or unethical. Although the procedure might
sound a little sneaky, it is not. The approach is a sensible,
methodical, and an intelligent way in which to leverage
17 Grant money
As students begin their preparation to search, apply to, and enter
college or graduate school, the issue of finances is one of the
leading hurdles most students worry about.
Students coming from a family of privilege are fortunate to have
the means to pay for college. Students who are not as fortunate are
counting pennies and planning on how to pay for classes.
It is never too early to begin seeking out sources of free and cheap
money to pay for college. By the end of the sophomore year in
high school, students should be sniffing out free money anywhere
it may be available. It is called free money because they are funds
going towards tuition, books, and other expenses that do not
Grant searches can begin well before students identify their
professors and colleges of choice. Although schools often have
additional sources of grant money that is specific to their
institution, the majority of grant money that students seek is
specific to the grantor and not the college students want to attend.
Where to start
Students can begin filtering funding opportunities using their area
of interest first. The Internet is a great place to start, but students
should not rely completely on what is found on the web.
The library maintains resources that list thousands of available
grants. And before students get talked into paying for a grant
package online (some are real, most are not), they should take
advantage of the free resources at the local and college libraries.
Many grants, loans, and other funds are made available in a super
targeted way. For example, there are grants available to students
who are children of Rotary Members, The Lions, and other social
benefit organizations. There are funds available to female Native
Americans and for children of cancer survivors.
And consistent with this book’s suggestion that students go off the
common path and engage in unique methods, the same approach
applies to grant money for school. Remember the earlier
discussion about researching local companies whose core expertise
is related to their interests? They too are potential sources of cash
The path to this funding is often long and make-it-up-as-you-go.
But in the end, what students care about is getting their college
tuition paid for. How many hoops they have to jump through to get
it will quickly become history!
One avenue for free money that students can explore is the
company that student chose for their internship. There may be
grant money from the corporation or the corporation’s education
Just be aware that free money is out there and students need to ask,
ask, and ask. Much of that money goes uncommitted each year
simply because no one asks for it!
*Fee for service grant searches *
If students or someone supporting their search wants to invest
some money in paid grant searches, seek out the most credible
resources. How will students know if the resource is credible?
It is important to ask for references. Read the online reviews.
Contact the Better Business Bureau in their city of operation and
see if there have been complaints.
Ask at the student’s high school or college for recommendations
for paid grant search services. Students may get good leads or
students might only hear negative comments. In either case, asking
always gets more information than if student had not asked at all.
Unsolicited grant proposals
Explained in this section is a rarely if ever heard of approach to
seeking grant funding–the unsolicited education grant proposal.
Although normally used when a university or other organization is
searching for money for a program, the basic philosophy and
Although grant programs are most always created and announced
to the public by a granting agency or authority, there is no rule
saying that students can’t work it in the opposite direction.
The student can ask the organization even if the organization does
not reach out to students. This becomes more important to consider
when the organization that might have the grant money for college
has no grant program! No problem–you can be created for them.
It all starts with a boatload, and I mean aircraft carrier size, amount
of confidence–confidence by the student to prepare the unsolicited
grant proposal and the guts to walk in and present it. Students will
always gain respect and admiration for their efforts, even if the
unsolicited grant proposal fails to land the student college money.
Where it starts
Students start by identifying the company, organization, or even
the individual that will be the object of the solicitation. And, as
learned earlier in this book, it begins with a relationship.
That relationship may already be in swing as a result of an
internship, part time job, employee who is a relative, parent
owning the company, membership in the church, temple, or
mosque, or a random company or individual that students think
would be a worth soliciting just for the practice!
By way of the relationship, students make notes about what they
do, how they do it, who they do it for, and where the cash resided
within the organization or estate.
The reason students need to collect all of this intelligence is so that
they can craft the unsolicited proposal. It are called unsolicited
because no one has requested it. Crafting the proposal with the
individual or organization in mind is critical so that a document
looks, feels, and reads like the student did solid homework.
Here is where the preparation can become too simplistic or equally
too complex. Developing the proposal can be as much an art as a
The task is to prepare a rational personalized request for money for
college based on either a connection between what the student
loves to do and what the individual or organization does, or as a
trade off for doing something for them to justify the grant. Even if
students do something for it, it’s still called a grant and it’s still
Not all grant proposals are created equal. They come in all shapes
and sizes. It is safe to say that an effective unsolicited grant
proposal will not be shorter than five pages. And that a good grant
proposal of the scope we are speaking of here should never be
more than 10 pages.
Since few organizations or individuals will have heard of such a
document, it will have to be very clear and concise and literally use
the words “unsolicited proposal seeking college grant funding” so
that the reader does not scratch their head wondering what the heck
they are reading. But, if students take care in communicating their
proposal, the reader will understand it.
When creating a document like this, students must be humble in
every way. It is possible to ask for grant money, even unsolicited,
and remain gracious and humble. As soon as the document sounds
or the student acts presumptuously, they damage the process.
The proposal will contain the following sections:
1. Executive Summary (two paragraphs max)
4. Financial Request
5. Service to be Rendered (if appropriate)
6. Benefit to the Individual or Organization
7. Benefit to the Student
8. Review of Academic Plan
9. Conclusion/Wrap Up
10. Paragraph of appreciation (for their time and attention)
Keep it plain
When preparing the document, the student should not use fancy
fonts and only use pictures or graphics where absolutely necessary.
It should be concise and easy to ready.
Students should avoid professional jargon and street slang. The
document represents why a student deserves to be awarded free
money for college and should be kept smart, clean, crisp and well
Everyone on the student’s mentoring team should read it. The team
might think it is ridiculous that students are preparing and
submitting a proposal of this kind. They are entitled to their
But whether they agree or not, ask them to proof it over and over
again. Accuracy will let the reader know the student is serious.
*Presenting the document *
Emailing or postal mailing the document to the organization or key
persons are not options. This is so vital to the student’s education
that the proposal should be delivered in person.
When heading out to deliver the proposal, students should dress
professionally and walk with confidence. The student should
appear in charge but be humble.
Calling to make an appointment is also important. If the recipient’s
“gatekeeper” asks what the appointment is for, the student should
make it clear that they have a document to be delivered in person.
It may take several calls and talking to several people to get in, but
students should do whatever it takes.
After the student delivers the document, they should not expect an
answer right away. If this is the first document that the recipient
has ever seen like this, they will want to mull it over and give it
deep consideration. They may ask the student to return and answer
questions about it. They may call the student and ask for
clarification. Or, they may return it to the student with comments
Who knows what the response will be?
But the exercise and practice of creating and delivering the
proposal is of great value, whether they give the student money or
Students should realize that in the business of raising money for
school, “no” does not always mean “no”. The recipient may say,
“We do not have that kind of money, but we’ve got this other thing
over here. Why doesn’t the student apply for that?”
Students should not second guess the outcome. Instead, they
should allow it to happen as it will, with patience, and direct follow
Final chapter thoughts
When seeking money for school, the student has to be focused,
relentless, and expect results. They should tell their story to
everybody that will listen, announcing to the world that they are
going to college and looking for a scholarship and/or grant money.
They should seek out all grant sources, both loans and free, by
making their quest known to everyone in their circle and family
network. And if the request requires a proposal, write one.
Grant seeking, no matter how long it takes or the amount of effort
invested, will end at some point. And in the end, all that matters is
that the student gets as much free money as possible.
Many students leave college with more than $200,000 in college
loan debt. Students can avoid ending up in that position by getting
out there and finding the money!
18 Developing a research track
Most of the professors that the student researched in previous tasks
have a narrow interest to which they track all of their research and
research activities, driving down a single lane of interests.
By design, this prevents the professor from being too diverse
avoids the diluting of their expertise, a factor in achieving
academic long-term success. Student should follow their example.
A student’s initially chosen academic or career interests need not
be set in stone, but students do need to start somewhere. They
1. The research the student has accumulated about their target
2. The research the student has engaged in concerning their
particular area of interest.
3. Where the local company operating in that area of interest is and
what they do.
4. Any experience the student gained in their internships or other
5. Identify something specific that the student is interested in.
Narrowing the interest
Previously, the student was asked to look broadly to find their
areas of interest. Now they will be narrowing down those interests
and finding a specific area to focus on–it is time for students to get
For example, suppose that the student’s interest area is theatre, and
they narrow down to Shakespearean plays. Once they settle on a
topic as narrow as “the suspected works that might be Shakespeare
but are not yet proven as such,” they have done a great job of
narrowing the interest. This is a great example of how narrow the
topic of interest can be.
Further, taking such a narrow interest gives room for the student
become immersed into the narrow subject and become an
international expert on the topic.
Building on the specialty area
Once the student chooses a narrow subject area, they can direct all
of their high school, college, and graduate work around the central
topic. Students can attend conferences and workshops related to
the topic and volunteer to present talks on the subject to schools
and literary clubs and associations. And of course, they choose
their colleges, professors, and advisors around the topic.
Can the student change or modify the specific topic later? Of
course they can. There will be many changes as the student moves
through their academic and career development, but what is
important is that they get familiar and committed to the concept of
discovering narrow, niche questions, and launching from those to
develop further clarity in their lifelong areas of specific research.
A sign that the student is well on their way to narrowing and
defining interests is when someone asks, “What is it about
Shakespearean literature do you like?” and the answer rolls off the
tongue as if second nature.
“The thing I’m most interested in,” the student might answer, “is
authenticating Shakespearean works that were previously unknown
but recently found.”
There is nothing more respected then meeting a student who knows
who they are, what they want to study, what their interests are, and
what particular narrow piece or knowledge of the world they seek
to uncover and be the expert in. Too many students are just moving
through their life and academic years like robots, lacking the
specificity and originality.
Student confidence and focus is sellable. A student with laser focus
and a body of knowledge that is concise and well versed makes
them very valuable in many areas of life. And the personal rewards
for the student are the great feelings that come with presenting
themselves in a confident, knowledgeable, and authoritative
This step of students choosing not just their interest track, but the
narrow specific topic(s), places them in the upper one-tenth of one
percent of every other student applying to college in the nation.
They will already be giving laser focus to their career interests that
most college students never do.
To maintain the top position, students should identify their
interests and include a chapter specifically about choosing the
topic in their academic and career portfolio. In fact, they may even
want to maintain one binder specifically for that question. And of
course students will want to stay vigilant about noticing the topic
and collecting related data from that point on.
For the duration of their academic and professional life, students
should engage in research on their question, gather information,
and then archive that data. The day is going to come when the
student may want to do a dissertation on that topic, and they will
fly through the doctoral program like they have wings.
Why? Because the student will already be accustomed to, exposed
to, have researched, know the question, and have collected the data
to discover not just the question, but the answer as well.
19 Non-local companies
Previously, students identified local companies related to their
particular interests. They contacted those companies and began
relationships with key employees.
Now it is time to find branches of their previously selected
companies of interest close to the college that they want to attend.
Then, they’ll begin to extend existing business relationships or
make new connections at those non-local companies.
This might seem a bit confusing or more work than necessary,
considering they already were asked to take the time to connect
with the business of interest close to their home. But, it important
to following the overall Mentored Action Plan (MAP).
Success depends on relationships, and starting those relationships
near home and extending them outward to where the student will
attend college or graduate school is a vital step in the MAP
process. This leads to continuity between home experiences and
*Advance team *
Instead of waiting until the student arrives at college or graduate
school and starting from scratch, they are their own advance team.
This front-work prepares the environment so that when they arrive,
they are prepared to dig right in and continue the experience,
instead of starting from scratch.
By creating continuity between home-area experiences such as
volunteering and internships, at-college experiences, and social
organization leadership and special projects, the student’s efforts
are multiplied. All previous efforts are built upon, making every
effort and task a true investment in the student’s future.
If the student’s local relationships are strong and worthy, their
decision to attend school away may or not may require a second
consideration. And if they are content working at the company or
companies that they have already identified close to home, and
they are providing a learning track, and there are local educational
resources that meet the student’s needs and desires, then remaining
local may be wise.
The student can always continue their education in a different
school, in another location, later during their academic career.
On the other hand, contacting the out-of-town branches of
businesses that one has a relationship locally may identify
locations for school that they had not previously considered.
Students might start by asking the manager at their local company
to provide a list of all other company offices around the world.
Then, a follow up with additional college cross-referencing may
reveal a college or university near one of their global offices that
may suit the student’s needs.
Further review and research of the professors at those newly
identified schools may completely change the student’s plans.
One of the powerful advantages of making all of these contacts
with businesses, colleges, and professors is that students are
networking at the speed of light. Once students identify who they
need to speak to, they then have a very legitimate reason for
calling them and establishing the relationship.
Remember, the goal is for the student to develop relationships in
advance so that when they begin college, and give themselves a
week or two to get settled in, they can visit the company or
companies and establish new relationships based on previous
However, the student’s academics should always be their primary
focus, making these connections to the career path is definitely a
The process of researching and contacting businesses in the
student’s related area of interest is a valuable experience and builds
personal knowledge by just working the task. The additional
knowledge that they will pick up about their field is enormous.
Student should begin now to identify the companies near their
three final college choices, make the connections, and prepare the
road ahead for when they arrive at college.
With the Internet being the new primary mode of communication,
it is also the primary mode of research and making connections.
When someone wants to know something, they get on their
computer or smart phone and type in the question. Almost at the
speed of light, the answer they seek is in front of them.
Ideally, students want to be the provider of answers to the
questions from others, the solutions to the problem. To accomplish
this, it is important that students become known by what they
Writing, no matter what the subject is, it is one of the most
personally satisfying, academic accomplishing, and professionally
distinguishing activities. There are many outlets from which to
push out writings, the task has become all that more worthwhile in
that it extends a student’s brand–they are their brand–beyond the
classroom or local bookstore and out into the world.
What once was an opportunity to write one’s thoughts and keep
them in a dusty journal has morphed into an opportunity to share
those thoughts with everyone in the world that is within reach of a
After students invest the time to research their interests, discover
the schools related to their interests, identify the associated
professors and companies involved in their area of interest, they
have a ton of information and new knowledge. This sets the stage
for an amazing run at writing and publishing.
Data to publish
There is no way a student of this book’s Mentored Action Plan
(MAP) can say “But I don’t know what to write about.” The
student can choose any article that one of their discovered
professors has written and simply write a review of that article. Or
they can explore the merits of a new process that the local
company they have chosen has implemented.
The student can consider writing about a change in an academic
program at one of their selected schools. Or the student can begin
an online journal that keeps the world informed of their progress
from tenth grade to graduate school, and beyond. Students need to
Maybe the student will be the first in their high school to write on
their particular subject of interest. It is possible that the student will
be the first in their city or state to write and publish on that topic.
Maybe the student will be the first in their state in that particular
The point of all this effort and is not just to advance the student’s
success in college and career, but for them to personally acquire
the habit of research and writing. The habit will advance every area
of the student’s life.
When working on a piece to be published, students should involve
others. They can organize an online meeting or conference call
with family, friends, mentors, or professionals to discuss an issue.
Or they might meet in person with one or more professionals or
By bringing people together to discuss the student’s topic of
interest, great insights can occur amongst all who attend. And the
contributing power of opposing views, opinions, and thought
cannot be overstated.
Not only does the paper the student wants to publish become
better, but the student themselves gain greater insight into their
area of interest. Learning how to navigate in an environment with
opposing views and where there are other presents that have more
knowledge than the student, will build skills that will serve the
Where to publish
A quick and easy way for students to publish is to utilize blogs.
The purpose of the blog is not to simply repost the works of others;
that type of blog is all over the web and does the student little good
at this point. Instead, students should make their blog a work in
progress of their own thoughts, a place where they publish
everything they write that is ready for public consumption.
That is the key point of this section – student’s should publish
every paper they write, every project they complete, an analysis
and reflection of every trip they take, even one-page thought
papers about a particular subject count.
Organizing, writing, and posting/publishing thoughts–not just
rambling thoughts, but coherent papers and works–about what the
student is engaged in is critical. The writings do not have to be
long, but it is critical that the student begins to publish from their
academic portfolio. A personal blog is a great place to start.
Of course, students should also consider sending articles to other
blogs, newspapers, magazines, and other electronic publications.
All websites require fresh content to operate effectively, and the
student’s content may be as good as the next writers. Students
should write or call the publishers and ask if they can send an
article or paper.
Most blog publishers will say yes, and in the process the student
then will develop reliable outlets for their work. Students can
encourage an appetite for their work by sending the publisher a
project or article proposal, asking the publisher if they might be
interested in expanding it into a full article.
Electronic book publishers and others
Students should own an electronic book reader, available from
their local electronics store. They should actively download and
read ebooks. This will form the foundation for knowing not only
how ebooks are presented, but as well the sources from which
A Google search for ebooks and ebook publishers, like Amazon
Books and digital publishing, and students can locate a superb
outlet for publishing their writings. The more published works out
there under their pen name or an alias, the better.
Students must pay close attention to proper grammar and spelling–
this work needs to be right. This does not mean a student should
write papers that lack personal style and some grammatical license,
but there is a difference between the artful use of a comma,
hyphen, paragraph break, etc and a misspelled word.
Students and young professionals are judged by their work–content
first and presentation second. This book for example is in its
second release, primarily because it was rushed into print the first
time and a close reading revealed many errors. It is always a
balance between getting the work out and deep editing. You will
be judged accordingly.
Students must take care to cite the work and ideas of others
appropriately. Even if the citations are clunky, at least they are
there. In the world of mass knowledge and accessibility, one of the
most foundational rules is that writers give credit for ideas that are
not their own.
A writer will never be judged poorly for dovetailing off of another
person’s ideas, but writers give up all credibility and respect if they
simply take someone’s idea and make them their own.
The best way for a student to get a feel for the proper citation of
articles and papers is to read work in their area of interest. They
should read it with an eye towards identifying how the sources are
cited in those writings.
[*Why publish? *]
If the goal of this book and the student’s efforts are to prepare and
stage them in a way that makes them a global asset to be sought
out and hired, then students must make a name for themselves.
And since this is branding, the most important brand being the
student, brand management begins with letting the world know
who they are and what their interests include.
The act of publishing shows tenacity and energy that is rarely
found in students and employees. When one publishes, they build a
public awareness of who they are, what their expertise is, how they
write, how they talk, and what they have to offer. And when the
writing is about the student’s research and findings, and it is
published, they benefit the entire community.
Student’s writings as a source
When others use or cite the student’s work in their own writings,
those writers will cite the student and give them credit for the idea,
solution, or new knowledge. That not only builds student
credibility in the world of their area of interest, it can also lead to
some amazing opportunities.
Before long, the student will begin to receive calls from
individuals and organizations seeking their advice and opinions for
news articles and stories. Students may be asked to present certain
information at conferences or to provide the data at a workshop.
Over time, the student becomes the “authority” on the subject of
The student will have invested years and countless hours becoming
not just the smartest person on the block regarding the issue, but
someone who is willing and wanting to share their knowledge with
Then when it comes to applying to college, graduate school, or
applying for an awesome career position, the student will have had
years of writings to direct to the attention of the admissions or
Students can stand in front of them and say “Oh, this is a paper I
wrote and published when I was a sophomore; this one when I was
a junior in high school; and here’s one I wrote as a senior in
As stated earlier, over time, the student will become a quoted
resource. When people are looking for information or looking for
an expert, the student will be the one who comes up in the search
for an expert. The student will be the one individual that the local
television station seeks out when they want to get someone for a
two minute spot about a particular issue.
*Editors, mentors *
The student’s mentors, both academic and professional, will be
their greatest allies in editing and getting the materials they publish
right. In the next section, mentors will be the subject. And it is
these mentors who can serve as their most reliable and trusted
Other sources of editors are those professionals the student begins
to integrate with at local hometown companies, at the local
companies near the college they will be attending, and with their
professors. Before they publish, the work should be circulated to a
couple of these people and a request be made for their feedback
They will be a great help to the student and professionals and
academics love to give feedback to others on their work.
All students should love receiving feedback. Feedback makes all
writers and professionals better at what they publish and do.
Whether the student only sends it to their mentors, or to everybody
on their editing list, by the time they post that writing to their blog,
it is likely to be more right than if it had not been reviewed.
Everybody involved ends up with a piece of themselves in the
student’s work. Not only does the student get amazing results, each
time the product makes the round in the editing pool, but the
student builds upon those relationships with people who have been
supportive of them.
The mentors and other writing review team members will respect
the student’s thoroughness and desire to get things correct and, that
the student has reached out to other professionals in the field.
Final thoughts on publishing
One way a student can influence their immediate world and the
world at large is to publish. Whether they are publishing
professional research papers or poems, the lasting nature of
publishing changes the world in a way that cannot be undone.
Once a student’s words are out there electronically, they live on
So whether the student follows through and publishes to advance
their MAP activities, or simply for personal satisfaction, it is one
thing they will be deeply proud of and can contribute to the world.
[*21 Why mentors? *]
“By associating with wise people you will become wise yourself.”
As students move through the academic and career process, they
will find that some of the most valuable people contributing the
most to their success are their mentors. The focus of this chapter is
in understanding what a mentor is, how mentors help, why they
help, and how to assemble a mentor team.
A mentor, for the purposes of this book, is an individual who has
chosen to devote their time, energy, knowledge, and wisdom to
coach a student towards a goal. Mentors typically serve on a
volunteer basis, but are also hired and paid as consultants. The
relationship between students and their mentor is a 95% one-way
The person being mentored, in this case the student, receives the
lion-share of the benefit, while the mentor receives primarily the
satisfaction of leading the student towards success.
Mentors come in all shapes, sizes, genders, backgrounds, ages,
abilities, and desires. Their value as a mentor emerges from having
proven their own wisdom through their accomplishments,
achievements, or experience.
Because students will assemble teams of mentors and rely on them
for guidance towards success, ideally mentors will be individuals
who have displayed a reasonable amount of success in their own
lives. They are leaders in their circle of influence and are often
Mentors prove themselves worthy of being a trusted source in
inspiration, guidance, and motivation in many ways. Some have
authored and published papers or other works, earned academic
degrees, are business leaders, and have had enough years of life
experience to be of a benefit to those they mentor.
They may or may not be leaders and experts in the student’s
particular area of interest, but more importantly, they will be
leaders in general and can buy into the goal of ushering in student
success in whatever area of interest they decide to engage.
The “job” or task of the student’s academic and career mentor is
not only to guide and encourage students through the short and
long range efforts towards success, but to be another set of wisdom
“eyes” into their overall actions and progress.
When students select individuals to serve on their mentoring team,
they should choose someone that they have confidence in and can
maintain a good long-term relationship. At the same time, they are
to be the student’s mentor, not best friend. That distinction is a
boundary that must be maintained at all times.
When it is time to assemble the team of advisors, the best practice
is to follow the previously used three-tier academic portfolio
approach to identifying, accessing, and selecting colleges, just
modified to the selection of mentors.
Students identify their first tier group, second tier group, and third
tier group of potential mentors. The first group is the best of the
class–most successful and prominent–also most likely the hardest
to convince to accept the invitation to serve on a mentoring
If the student is fortunate enough to get a “yes” from all the
potential mentors in the first tier, great! If the student has a target
team of six in the first tier and only four say yes, then they begin
asking the prospective mentors in the second tier group.
They should continue the process until the mentor team is full or
they exhaust the short list of potential mentors, whichever happens
Since the goal is to assemble a mentoring team that can work with
the student from tenth grade through college and into career,
selections should be made with longevity as a preferred factor. As
students develop, mature, and move through the process, their
mentors need to be stable, unchanging anchors for them.
Mentors assist students in reflecting back to where they’ve come
from, where they are today, and repeatedly share with the student a
vision of a successful future. Mentors help students maintain a
clear and concise focus as they make the many choices required to
move from teenager to full professional.
As the student begins to choose their academic mentors, and they
feel at any point that they and the mentor are falling out of the
relationship, it is acceptable for the student to back off from that
relationship and choose a replacement mentor.
This task of selecting and maintaining a mentoring team is less
about staying the course and more about meshing well with the
members and receiving actionable feedback.
That means having mentors that will avoid inaccurate rosy feel-
good feedback and embrace truthful, constructive criticism. The
mentors need not agree with each other or the student, simply
improve the student’s forward progress.
Stay or go
In a relationship, sometimes the participants of that relationship are
“in a good groove” and sometimes not. Sometimes the relationship
feels right and sometimes it does not. Once a student has their
mentors, they should not feel like they are locked in and unable to
make changes, because they are not. It is always matter of choices.
A student may experience a mentor who backs off from the
relationship and responsibilities. The mentor may decide that it is
not in the best interest of both parties for the relationship to
continue. And the student may feel the same way. This is okay. An
honest approach on both sides is optimal, and the student should
desire an honest approach and authentic relationship.
The student should move forward and select their mentors, looking
forward to their service. There should be formal discussions with
the student and each prospective mentor in order for the student to
disclose their interest in having the mentor join their team.
Type of mentor
In the next chapter, a distinction will be made between academic
and career mentors. Yes, that means the student must run the three-
tier selection system twice, once to choose their academic mentors
and one to choose their career mentors.
Over time the student will discover the value of the two separate
teams and how they will have different perspectives to contribute.
22 Academic v. career mentors
Because the Mentored Action Plan (MAP) is both an integrated
academic and career success plan, continuity sensitive approach, it
is advised that students run two separate mentoring teams–one
with a focus on academics and the other with a focus on career
Ideally, the prospective academic mentoring team members have
made academics the pivot point of their own professional
development. Similarly, the prospective career mentoring team
members have made work-place leadership the focus of their
professional development. These are two very different elements
of the student success plan.
How the student clusters these potential mentors and divides them
into tiers is a part of the MAP learning experience. It begins with
scanning the professors and other university and education-based
individuals that the student was introduced to during their faculty
and college research phase.
Students will have plenty of notes and background information on
a number of faculty members as a launching point of selection.
Reflecting on the communications that the student had with each,
they can now judge the accessibility of the professors and others.
Was the student more or less comfortable with one over another?
This and other questions should be reviewed, not only about the
professors and colleges in the student’s faculty search, but also of
the high academically achieving family members and friends in
your home circle of influence.
Keep in mind that the purpose of students maintaining an academic
mentoring team is to maintain a constant upward pressure on their
academic development. Therefore, the more successful, prominent,
and academically connected the potential mentor is, the more
likely they will drive the student to achieve the same results!
The Career Mentoring Team
While developing the student’s career mentoring team, the
selection requirements set for choosing these members will be
much broader in scope than those used in selecting the academic
Professional leadership in the corporate world comes in many
different forms, and the selection of a team will benefit from the
student focusing on their career interests and setting the stage for
the team development based on the uniqueness of that path.
For example, if the student is interested in environmental
engineering, the list of potential mentoring members may look
more like an administrative leadership who’s who list with
individuals from local, state, or national government
But if the student’s focus is on grass-roots environmental
conservation and innovation development, the potential team
members may be local, home grown, “less slick” professionals.
The student will want to select leaders in those areas, but where
they seek them out and how they group together may be very, very
Career mentors will also tend to be more pragmatic and
conservative than your potential academic mentoring team
members. This is just the nature of the differences between
academia and the industry/commercial/service environment. And
their contributions to the student via mentoring will be just as
diverse. Awareness of these differences will assist students in
making well-rounded committee decisions.
Finally, there are the issues of morality, ethics, and spirituality. All
three of these areas are very important in life, and they all
contribute to making students more effective students and
It is important to be careful that although the student would like
their mentors to be grounded in all three, and for them to be similar
to the student’s, the task is not about choosing a spiritual
leadership group, but a mentoring group.
Students are choosing neither an ethics committee nor a morality
enforcement team. Although both are important factors in life,
overusing these criterion during the selection process can tilt the
team in a way that may hurt this process.
Now that the difference between academic and career mentoring
teams has been established, the student can begin to utilize the
three-tier selection process and identify their potential career
mentors. The next chapter reviews how students will contact the
potential members and solidify the teams.
23 Finalize the teams
Contacting the potential academic and career mentors and asking
them to be on the student’s mentoring teams is an important task
that must be handled with care. As with most first impressions,
how the student approaches each of them will make or break the
potential mentoring relationship.
The importance of this task cannot be overstated. The mentors
have the potential to hold the goal posts for the student as well as
serve as the bumpers along the side to gently guide students to and
through those markers of success.
Contact begins with the student preparing a formal letter to be used
in conjunction with the personal or phone visit. The letter provides
a meaningful instrument to hand deliver to the potential mentor
during or after the meeting.
This document provides information about the meeting or
mentoring request that the prospective mentor can review later, if
they have not given the student an immediate decision.
The letter may contain some of the following information:
• The student looks forward to receiving feedback
• The student’s success depends on modeling the success of others,
such as the potential mentor
• The time commitment asked of the mentor will be minimal
• Most all contacts with the mentor will be via email
• The student appreciates the potential mentor’s academic/career
success and are aware of what it took for the potential mentor to
achieve this success; a pathway that may help the student achieve
• That the potential mentor will be one of five (or whatever
number) of other academic or career mentors and the student feels
that they may find cross-committee discussions interesting
• The student’s ideal mentors will be outspoken, strong
professionals willing to give unvarnished, direct advice
This list and the formal presentation may feel over the top and
excessively formal, but asking these individuals to be members of
critical teams cannot be taken too seriously nor approached too
formally. The formality demonstrates how seriously the student is
taking the task and how much the student honors the potential
Leaders are watching
The potential mentor committee members will appreciate the care
that the student takes in making the contact. Leaders recognize
young leaders in the making. And this experience of seeking
mentors is an opportunity for the student to immediately present
themselves as one with a willingness to accept guidance – another
hallmark of a leader.
The student should arrange the meeting, prepare the formal request
letter, email the letter in advance, have the meeting, and ask for
mentor team participation. Whether the individual accepts or
passes on the opportunity to be a mentor, follow-up with a hand-
written thank you note, mailed via traditional postal mail.
There is a good chance that one of the individuals who had initially
said no will come back to you and accept the student’s request. By
sending the thank you note, the student leaves that door for future
acceptance wide open.
Communicating with the teams
After the student has assembled the two mentoring teams,
academic and career, they should then develop a mailing list so
that every time an update or team communication is dispatched,
the student can do so easily and without forgetting someone on the
team. A team mailing can be accomplished with most email
Students should send an email to each of the two lists and include
the names and contact information for the other members. It is
important that the team members become aware who they are
working with, the other team members, and allow them all to gain
an immediate sense that the student is looking forward to success.
This will also make it possible to identify any conflicts within the
group and to take steps to resolve them.
Now that the student has two powerful mentoring teams to provide
feedback, guidance, and encouragement, they can move forward in
this Mentored Action Plan process. T
he student should keep the teams informed of everything that they
do as it relates to academics and career. Students should frequently
ask the team for their input and share the feedback received with
everyone else on the team.
Information exchange can be accomplished by email. If a chat
session is used, that chat should be saved and provided to the rest
of the team. A conference call with the entire team once a month
will maintain team strength and momentum.
These are two power-teams that will lead the student to greatness!
24 The way forward
Much has been accomplished by any student who has followed
even a fraction of the tasks outlined in this book. The Mentored
Action Plan makes clear that the old routine of a linear approach,
moving through high school to college to career can be
supercharged through a process of a multi-track, integrated
exploration. Then mentoring teams are selected and the final
elements of the plan are in place.
[*Now what? *]
The stage is set, the process in place, the mentors at the ready, the
to-contact list established. From this point forward, the success of
the plan rests in hands, desire, and strength of the student, their
parents, and the mentoring teams.
Some students will be blessed with self discipline and desire,
complimented by a strong parental, education, and mentor team
environment. In this case, they will surge forward in a manner that
will raise them above all the competition and reform their fate and
future in a way that success is inevitable.
For those students who themselves struggle, or have a weak
parental support group, who do not enjoy a strong academic
framework, or have accumulated mentors that are weak and
disinterested, the path will be more difficult by many multiples.
Most all students will fall somewhere between those two extremes.
And the effort of students and their support network will have its
natural ebb and flow, but one can be assured that, if any student
shall chose the path, their success in all academic and career
endeavors will be enhanced.
An academic and career advantage, no matter how it transpires in
the life of a student, is a gift. The tasks and resources of this book
can and will contribute to that gift.
Whether a student, parent, advisor, counselor, mentor, relative, or
other individual concerned with the success of a student, each can
be the essential part of one student’s success. This is the
knowledge and instructions by which to accomplish that giving.
But the power of this plan remains squarely with the student. Only
the student can maintain communication with the mentoring teams.
Only the student can accomplish the writing, the publishing, the
relationships with colleges and their faculty. And only a student
can seek admissions, focus all college tasks, and engage potential
Students never need to travel the path alone. Student no longer
need rely on the old rubber chicken tricks like a worn and tired
magician with nothing else to give. This unique plan is their saving
grace, their tool among all other academic and career tools. The
way forward for the student is to reach out to all and draw energy,
guidance, ideas, and the encouragement to push forward in a
unique and thoughtful manner.
The way forward is now in the hands of the student. And yes, they
can be world-class graduates.
The premium College preparatory guide for high school students who want to compete for the best colleges, best internships, and best career positions. If you as a high school student, or you as a parent, or you as a mentor, teacher, or guidance counselor want to provide a power-house guide to achieving maximum success in the high school to college to career pathway, THIS IS IT. The plan is highly structured, provided step by step, and is supported by many participants in the student's support structure. ANY high school student can use this plan to push past even the best and brightest in their class. Why? Because of the program's strategy that makes quantum leaps in the high school to career process.