Influential Counselor: The Expensive Wine Problem

The wine industry is predicated on scarcity.  Typically, the best marketed or award winning–and there are many awards in the industry–wine is well managed in price point and “just enough” availability to generate buzz and a perception that it tastes better.  Posting a pic to social media that you are enjoying this desirable wine can create a “less than” feeling to your friends drinking their Two-Buck Chuck.

In her book, Daring Greatly, Brené Brown describes the inherent use of scarcity in our lives (mass and social media platforms) as one of the foundational negative impacts on adolescents and adults regarding shame, comparison and disengagement.  Constant comparison leaves adolescents with a pervasive feeling of not measuring up in many aspects of their lives.

In fact, the top 50 highest admission standards colleges have developed the same business model of scarcity.  The fewer available seats, the more the desire for the prize.  Ultimately, elite colleges create a dangerous game for our youth to be one of the few that win or the many that feel like they lose.  Elite college data also create much of the overall frenzy and news around college admissions that should not be generalized to other colleges and universities.

Counselors are in a unique position to provide reasonable information and new traditions to counteract the scarce mindset of the admissions process.  Here are some things to think about:

  • Provide reasonable data of acceptance rates from your school to non-Ivy league colleges to encourage parents and students to see real options and opportunities.  Many don’t know that fewer than 50% of four-year colleges met their enrollment goals in the last few years.  There is a place for everyone.
  • Reframe that “Ivy or bust” mentality by presenting the idea of a “big-fish” in a small pond concept where arguably top students going to non-tier 1 schools will have more learning opportunities than many at the elite schools (“small fish”- big pond). They will also have a larger return on investment (ROI).
  • Communicate the importance and provide an example of a “college values audit” for parents and students to drive a college list creation.  Without that mindset, college name will take precedence over fit.  It is a match to be made and not a prize to be won where the fit will become the “good” college and not necessarily the college with the lower admission rate.
  • For schools with a high percentage of students going to college, please consider eliminating the celebratory day where seniors wear the shirt of the college they will attend.  This exclusive day perpetuates comparison and may further disenfranchise those that are not moving on to a four-year college or did not get into their first choice of college.
  • High schools may consider elimination of traditional forms of comparing students in a class (more in my next post).

While scarcity exists in so many areas of a student’s life, counselors are in a unique position to soften the scarcity mindset within a school cohort or in individual students by working one to one to provide plans based on personal goals rather than peer comparisons.

Eric Domroes

Perfectly Pertinent Podcasts

Sharing the right podcasts can extend, enrich, and deepen your influence as a counselor.

One for your students:
Finding Your Authentic Self In The Path To College (Tests and the Rest)

One for their parents:
​10 Toughest Questions For Your Teen​ (PrepWell Podcast with Phil Black)

One for you and your colleagues:
Psychographics in College Admissions (Tests and the Rest)

COLLEGE CLOSEUP: Hobart and William Smith Colleges

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