Welcome to the College Prep Confidential Podcast
May 12, 2019

CPC Episode #2 - These 3 Letters Will Have Colleges Eating Out of the Palm Of Your Hand

In episode #2, we cover the 3 letters you can use to have colleges eating out of the palm of your hand. We show you how you can use these 3 letters like businesses do to. A These 3 letters turned FedEx into a multi-billion dollar force These 3...

In episode #2, we cover the 3 letters you can use to have colleges eating out of the palm of your hand. We show you how you can use these 3 letters like businesses do to. A

  • These 3 letters turned FedEx into a multi-billion dollar force
  • These 3 letters transformed Dominos pizza to a nationally recognized name
  • And these 3 letters turned a simply candy into a multi-billion dollar empire
  • These 3 letters will have colleges lining up to give you money

You'll also learn the 2 sales made for college prep, and how you can take advantage of both of them. When you make the first sale, you'll discover:

  • The one thing you can do with colleges to get them to stand up and pay more attention to you
  • How to make your college application jump out of the pile
  • Social media tips to move to the front of the line in college admission officer searches
  • 3 questions to ask to make colleges pay extra attention to you
  • The power of "squinching", and why it makes college admission officers think you're more intelligent
  • Why chewing gum gets you more social media followers, including college employees

Welcome to Episode 2 of College Prep Confidential. Today’s episode is entitled:

These 3 Letters Will Have Colleges Eating Out of the Palm of Your Hand

What are the 3 letters you ask? What are the 3 letters which transform your college recruiting experience into colleges lining up at your door?

I’ll get to that in a moment. But first, you must understand the power of the 3 letters. In the world of business...

  • These 3 letters turned FedEx into a multi-billion dollar force
  • These 3 letters transformed Dominos pizza to a nationally recognized name
  • And these 3 letters turned a simply candy into a multi-billion dollar empire

And these 3 letters transform you into a college recruiting magnet. College Prep works much like job prep and business. You must stand out from the herd. When I say “herd”, I mean most people. College prep, like job applications and interviews, uses the principles of selling.

For college prep, 2 sales happen:

  1. Sale #1: You, as a student, sell yourself to colleges. Parents do some of the selling as well
  2. Sale #2: Colleges sell themselves and their culture to you the student and you the parent

For this episode, we'll focus on Sale #1, you selling yourself. And to sell yourself, you need the power of the 3 letters. Part of you selling yourself to college comes from showing how you are different. How do you stand out in a crowd of college applications? The key, is to use a trick from marketing.

In marketing, these 3 letters turns an ordinary business into a superstar.  For college prep, these 3 letters demand attention from schools. These 3 letters helped get me 60% scholarship for baseball.

What are the 3 letters which transform your college prep journey?


USP stands for Unique Selling Proposition. In business, they ask...What is it about you and your business that is different? Remember the 3 companies I mentioned at the beginning of the episode?

  • For Domino’s Pizza, this was the "fresh hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less"
  • Or Fed-Ex - When it absolutely, positively, has to be there overnight
  • Or M&M’s - Milk Chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand

I mentioned my college scholarship earlier. Now there were better hitters than me. But I got the money, because the scout said, “Nobody else in the recruiting class can catch and pitch. It’s a very unique skill.” Notice he said unique, the first letter of the USP. 

And you can use the power of the USP to have colleges eating out of the palm of your hand. The unique selling proposition turns the tables on busy college admissions officers. With a stack of applications, college admission officers are looking to disqualify you first. There is simply not enough time in the day to research and review all applications thoroughly. It works the same with resumes for a job. Recruiters are speeding through resumes, looking for certain traits or unique features.

For college prep, take this phrase to heart: “Camouflage is a curse.” This is why you need a USP. USP’s make sure you don’t blend in and get ignored. 

In the college prep, you as the student, or parent of a student aren’t the only one working on and crafting a USP. Remember I said at the beginning of the episode about how 2 sales are made? Sale #1: You sell yourself to colleges?

Well, the 2nd sale also involves a USP. When colleges sell you, they sell you on "Why", as in, Why you should attend their school. Colleges use USP's to get you to attend. Like Texas Wesleyan, who has billboards posted up about "You in The Back Is Not Your Name." This is a knock on larger universities where you don't get the personal touch. So as you can see, colleges use the USP to try to get you to come there. And you use your USP as a college bound student or parent of a college bound student to attract colleges.

So what you need to do is craft your unique selling proposition so you turn the question from, "Why should I review John doe or Jane Doe's college application to Why shouldn't I review John Doe or Jane Doe's application?

So this is the first rule of standing out. Uniqueness. Being unique will help in the other tips I’m about to give you.

Stand out rule #2, engagement. I'm reminded of Dale Carnegie's quote: "In order to be interesting, be interested."

Engagement with Colleges:

Building off Episode 1 where you are the prize, show interest in a school, but not desperation. 

10 minutes before I recorded this episode, I'm read a U.S. news article about college prep, they're quoting an Associate vice president at Miami university of Ohio:

Making a trip to campus isn't the only way to let your interest be known, especially in the digital age. "We count any way students engage with us, which includes opening a college's emails or clicking on a link in a particular message, participating in a webinar or Facebook Live event, and more."

You have other ways to demonstrate engagement...

Research the college, the history, the news, current events, the alumni network...and who is doing what. This type of research always helped me in job interviews. When I'd repeat back a news event, or a historical item about the company to an interviewer, they always remembered me and brought it up as a reason I was hired. Why? Because I did my homework. I researched the business. Little details matter. Like Dale Carnegie recommended, I became interested...And this made me stand out.

Here's another unique engagement tactic...call or write the college. Or engage with them on social media. Ask to interview somebody at the college, or ask a question in a forum or social media. And when I say questions, I'm not talking about selfish questions such as, "how's the meal program, what kind of housing do we get, and what's the class schedule?" I'm talking about deep-interest questions about the college.

Here's a few questions I use in job interviews, which you can use for college admission programs.  These questions give you an unfair advantage to get noticed. It's like playing video games with cheat codes. Ask any or all of these questions:

1) What's the biggest challenge XYZ university has in the next 6 months for growth?

2) What new developments or initiatives XYZ is most excited about in the next 6 months?

3) What's your favorite thing about XYZ university?

These 3 questions demonstrates your interest in the university and their culture. Nobody asks these questions, so doing so puts you front of mind. They say, "Wow, here's somebody who is interested enough to ask about our business plans!" The 3rd question caters to vanity. Since people love to talk about themselves, Question 3 gets them talking all the time. Sit back and watch their reply. 

Oh, and I almost forgot... the 4th question I use shamelessly in job interviews, which you can use for college prep:

If you could design the ideal freshman for the incoming class, how would you design them? What is your ideal applicant?

Asking this question makes the college reveal their values to you. And by asking, you demonstrate interest. Interest increases engagement. And engagement moves you up on the college radar.

Asking those questions puts you miles ahead of the herd who ask selfish questions. 

Next on your quest to stand out, you should develop and optimize your social media presence. Social media you ask? But why? Well, let me share some statistics with you...

Social Media:

according to a Kaplan survey, 35% of college admissions officers have visited an applicant’s social media page to learn more about them

Kaplan Test Prep’s 2010 survey of college admissions officers revealed that four out of five college admissions offices use Facebook to recruit students

  • 27% of admissions officers surveyed said they Google prospective students.
  • 26% said they look up applicants on Facebook.
  • 35% said that when checking up on a student’s online presence, they found something that negatively impacted an applicant’s chances of getting in, nearly tripling from 12% last year.

In my research, I've found the 2 Biggest profiles to setup and maintain for College Prep:

  1. Facebook
  2. LinkedIn

Why LinkedIn? Because it shows you have a business sense before you have a full-time job out of college. It also helps you connect with college admission officers. Why? Because now you can write blog posts and status updates displaying your knowledge and uniqueness factor. Also a great place to collect recommendations, and connect with high earners and influential business people. This includes alumni of colleges you want to go to. LinkedIn gives you a chance to get crucial endorsements. And endorsements create social proof for college admission officers. When they see your recommendations, and your connections, they begin to create a story in their mind about you and your value. 

How To Stand Out on LinkedIn

A good photo reels people in, even if they don't know you. And, like it or not, people form judgements based on your looks. Don’t believe me?

  • In a series of experiments studying judgement from facial appearances, Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov found it only takes 100 milliseconds to form an impression of someone from just looking at a photo of their face.

Need more Proof? How about the PhotoFeeler Tests?

  • Photofeeler is a photo evaluation site

  • May 13, 2014 blog post, 60,000 ratings for 800 photos evaluated for competence, likeability and Influential
  • Eye obstructions like sunglasses brought down likeability by 0.36

  • Other Eye obstructions like hair, glare, and shadow decreased Competence and Influence scores by -0.29 and -0.31 respectively.

  • Slight Squint (squinch) - As a result, squinching eyes garner an average gain of +0.33 for Competence, +0.22 for Likability, and +0.37 for Influence.

  • Accentuate your jawline...Or lose weight. Â A shadow line that outlines the jaw all the way around ups ones score by +0.24 for Competence, +0.18 for Likability, and +0.18 for Influence.

    • Jawline is noted as an attractive trait by all people

    • In addition, jawline defines a face

    • Try facial exercises, such as chewing gum, which is easy to do and fun. Gum chewing builds and can reshape the masseter muscles.

    • Or, try making a fish face. Since the face and jaw contain muscles, you can sculpt them the same as you do with the rest of the body

  • Most impactful on scores...A smile with teeth visible gains an average of +0.33 for Competence, +1.35 for Likability, and +0.22 for Influence.

When you come up in a LinkedIn search, people see your photo and your headline. If college admission officers have a stack of people they need to review, they will save time by discarding certain people without clicking into their profile. Make sure your profile makes it impossible to ignore. It starts with the photo. 

While your social media attraction starts with your photo, it continues with the headline.

Suppose you had to sum up your unique value in a headline to the world. Suppose you couldn't meet anybody or start a relationship up unless they clicked your social media headline first. What would you write to make your digital profile irresistible?

Social Media Social Proof

I talked about social proof in Episode 1. If you didn't catch that episode, I recommend you go back and listen. Social proof comes from likes, shares, comments, recommendations, and followers.

  1. Who's following you?
  2. How many people like, comment on, and share your posts?
  3. How many followers do you have?

I've noticed something on LinkedIn, and it's not a random occurrence. The more connections I make, the more connections fall into my lap. The more posts I make, the more people engage with my profile. Action begets action. As you build your network, you magnetically attract more people into your network. This is the power of momentum, another trait of people who stand out. Here’s how it works...You start with 5-10 connections. Then you move up to 20. More connections open up your network to more people.

Think of it as a snowball on the top of the hill. As you roll the snowball, it's small, but over time, it gets bigger and bigger until it rolls down the hill itself. This is how social media connections work. And college admission officers are more likely to find you and research you with social proof. Social proof moves you up in search engine results. 

I’ll cover more social media in depth in future episodes, but for now, these are the basics to build your unique selling proposition on social media.

Stand out with Web Presences

Social media is the first stop on your website presence. To stand out in the digital world, you have other options. Have you built a website? Have you designed a game? Have you built something online? Feature it, highlight it, and promote it. 

Stand out with Grades

Colleges need bragging rights like any other organization. The better talent they get through the doors, including academics, the better their engagement and exposure. Smart people with good grades who get great jobs out of a college get used as case studies. People brag about and promote their alma mater. So understanding this shows you the importance of ratcheting up your grades. By the way, my company designed a platform with Ivy League testing experts. These are the top test takers in the world for ACT and SAT. They work smarter, not harder. So if you want to learn more about this, check out the free training at CPCSHOW.com. That's cpcshow.com.


Stand out with Course Choices

College admission officers look for people who challenge themselves. Did you coast through your classes? Or Did you choose a few advanced courses, and not just breeze through. College is the level-up period before you get a full-time career, and it all starts with what you did in high school. Do you challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone once in a while, or do you sit back in your box? Colleges look for people who push their limits. It adds to your USP, since most people take the easy route.

Stand out with Extracurriculars and Hobbies

Find something unique outside of school life about you. Make sure it's unique and you either enjoy it, or are really good at it. Now build your essay, social media, and promotional efforts for college around this. Here's an example: We had to interview a bunch of college interns at my old job. Most of them had equal skill sets. But one of them talked about his passion for Wing Chun Kung Fu.

  1. He knew it was the first martial art invented by a woman
  2. He knew how it uses an opponent’s energy against them
  3. He knew the nickname was “beautiful springtime”

He studied it like art, and it showed when he spoke. The other candidates talked about boring, safe stuff like sports and the weather. Now let me ask you, Who do you think stood out in the interviews?

Stand out with Writing Essays

Who do you think stands out more? The person who was a member of book club, or the person who helped write a book? While we're on the subject of writing, another place to stand out and shine is your essay. Many people have trouble writing, so if you can put together a powerful essay with a great story, your application jumps out of the stack for college admission officers. And if you need help with essays, or other college prep items, we've got a free training at cpcshow.com. That's cpcshow.com. Writing is another way for you to promote yourself and your unique values.

So there you have it. Embrace the power of the USP, in your personality, your skillset, and your digital presence. USP’s will raise your status to prospective colleges, and have them chasing you. By the way, If you need help standing out and crafting your USP, I've got a free program which reveals the secrets to simplifying the college prep process, including tricks to getting more financial aid. If you want to take advantage of the free training, go to cpcshow.com. That's cpcshow.com. Thanks for tuning in, see you next episode.