When it comes to college admission, aim beyond the block


What’s the point of the college admission application?

In short, it’s a story about you that helps admission officers determine whether you’ll succeed at their college.

Will you:

  • make the grade academically?
  • contribute something unique to the college community?

When I was a junior at Columbia, I joined the Taekwondo club. I’ve forgotten most of what I learned at the club, but one bit of advice the master gave us stuck with me. He said, “When breaking blocks of wood with fist or foot, don’t aim at the surface of the wood, but beyond it.”

What does this have to do with college admissions?

Think of admission to your first-choice college as the block of wood. Maybe it’s a thick block—difficult to crack, let alone break. The best way to improve your chances of breaking the wood—of getting into your first-choice college—is to aim past it. That means clearly demonstrating in your application that you’re already well-prepared to excel academically there.

Aim Beyond the Block

As I said, the audience for the story of you is the admission officers who read then pass judgment on your application. In a sense, admission officers are gatekeepers. Once you pass through the gates, though, you’ll be spending the majority of your time trying to please an entirely different audience—your professors.

Having been a professor, I know what professors want from their students. If you know how to please professors now, even before you’re in college, you’ll have a crucial advantage when you apply. And that advantage will carry over to the courses you take once you’re enrolled.

Our mission at Readerly is to help you aim beyond the block.  To this end, we offer holistic test prep tutoring.

Dr. Sean

Dr. Sean

Co-Founder at Readerly
Dr. Sean has over a decade of teaching experience at universities in the US and Asia. He earned a BA with honors from Columbia University and a PhD from the University of London. You can read more about his teaching and research here.
Dr. Sean