The College Prep Superstar: Creating a Pathway to Success That Any Willing High



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. _




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

20 Publish

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

stand down.

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

that formula.

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

support network.

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.

First pass

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.

Second pass

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

move on.

The reading should be continuous, remembering that the primary

goal is to absorb the information as quickly as possible in this

second pass.

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.

Third 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

other method.

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.

Book organization

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.

The past

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

student MAP.

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.

The Formula

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

significantly increases.

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

“equity” position.

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


Academic portfolio

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

portfolio emerge.

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

been accomplishing.

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

the individual.

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,

transformative outcome.

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

about it.

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

everyone concerned.

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

their interests.

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

with MAP.

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.

Their way

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

legacy model.

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


Smart choices

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.

Resist settling

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

their strengths.

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

competitive difficulty.

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

family needs.

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

master’s papers.

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


Double take

Dare I mention that all this research may lead one to abandon their

initial interests!

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

academic papers.

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

academic portfolio.

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.

Discovering options

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

your interests.

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

selection process.

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

this plan.

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

something like:

“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

connect with?”

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

with care.

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


Reveal information

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.”

[_Jackpot! _]

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.

Proposal contents

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.

Navigating administration

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:

Example 1

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. _

_Respectfully, _

Your name



Example 2

_Hello, _

[_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 _

_interesting. _

[_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. _

_Respectfully, _

Your name



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

be made.

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 opportunity.

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

respective schools.

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

approach? Yes.

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.

Post Internship

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

a doctor.

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!

Lessons learned

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

admissions office.

By contrast, with graduate school, the task is typically taken up by

the local academic department, in cooperation with the central

admissions office.

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

their homework.

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

those meetings!

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

lessons learned.

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


Directions delayed

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

dissertation topic.”

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.

An example

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

spoke to?”

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

inadequacy disappear.

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

them fully.

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.

[*Why? *]

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.

The process

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

remain there!

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

portfolio files.

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–

live–no voicemail.

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?

Final submission

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

require repayment.

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

for college.

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

mechanics apply.

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.

The proposal

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

free money!

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)

2. Introduction

3. Purpose

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

thought out.

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

or unopened.

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

should consider:

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

very specific.

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


Upper 1/10th

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

college experiences.

*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.

Power networking

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

  1. priority.

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.

20 Publish

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

start writing.

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.

Involve others

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

student well.

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

ebooks come.

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.

Be careful

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

their interest.

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


Leveraging publications

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

employment teams.

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

and input.

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.

Selecting mentors

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

environmental positions.

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.

Other factors

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

their goals

• 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

mentor’s service.

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 College Prep Superstar: Creating a Pathway to Success That Any Willing High

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.

  • ISBN: 9781370271382
  • Author: Lance Orndorff
  • Published: 2017-02-27 23:35:12
  • Words: 26444
The College Prep Superstar: Creating a Pathway to Success That Any Willing High The College Prep Superstar: Creating a Pathway to Success That Any Willing High