The 20 Minute Magic

In 20 minutes, you can get an effective workout, complete a good chunk of homework, eat, bathe, watch a tv episodes, or listen to a TED talk. 20 minutes is that happy medium between too short to get stuff done, and too long that it becomes tedious.

Check out our guest post over at InGenius Prep on the 20 minute magic rules.


Image credit: Some rights reserved by Tal Bright

Ain’t no mountain high enough

Dashrath Manjhi accomplished what seemed improbable; he carved a road, single-handedly, through a mountain using rudimentary tools.  The path to breaking the mountain started with a single stone.dasrath-manjhi-road-550x412As young students, the road to college seems as daunting a task as breaking a mountain.  Just stay focussed on the next stone that lies ahead in your path, instead of looking at the mountain.  Slowly but surely, you will have carved your path through the mountain.

Image Credit:  Oddity Central

Choosing A College Major

5788270465_9ae755c0b5_zThere is too much talk today about following one’s passion – and an implicit pressure on young students to have a passion. It is bit like the hollywood version of a true soul mate – an expectation set so high, that it can almost never be satisfied.

Most times, you can’t know what you want to be till you have the opportunity to be that. As Sheryl Sandberg said: “The reason I don’t have a <career> plan is because if I have a plan I’m limited to today’s options.

In other words, you will do well to:

  • stay broad in your education and learning opportunities (e.g. study ancient history, not hieroglyphics)
  • pick growing, open, and narrow areas to showcase your achievements (do a project in hieroglyphics, not ancient history)
  • evaluate opportunities as they present themselves
  • take the opportunities/risks that help you open new doors (you may, in the wake of Arab Spring, research how archeological work can best continue during periods of political instability. You may even help archive artifacts related to the Arab Spring. Neither of them is a study of ancient history, or hieroglyphics. Both can open many doors.)

And yes, there is risk inherent in every opportunity – even in the decision not to take the opportunity. Evaluate risk, instead of avoiding it.

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Why Volv?


During the heydays of Juniper Networks, our then CEO, Scott Kriens, would always travel with a coach by his side. One day, I had the unique opportunity to spend an hour with his coach, and after that, I never passed up another opportunity to work with a good coach.

80-90% of all companies use coaching, and 51% believe coaching is crucial to their success.

In contrast, coaching techniques are hardly used in the college admission context. Counselors struggle with young students’ ability to apply themselves to the admission process. Students feel overwhelmed, and not-in-control.

We believe that all students have an untapped, hidden potential. We bring to our counselors and young students a framework of tools designed to tap into that potential. Our framework is powerful because it brings clarity. It breaks down the complicated, into simple and straightforward. And in doing so, it empowers students to act.

[Image source: Some rights reserved by annnna_]

Say Hello To Your Opportunity

8423157044_f32d9f9f2e_oYou will be defined by the college you go to – because of the opportunities that will come with it . Opportunities, however, are only worth what you make of them.

Colleges know that, and want to admit the students who have shown they can make the best of their opportunities. 

The real question to ask is not, “Will I get into my dream college?” It is, “What am I doing now that makes me worthy of getting in?”

Volv is a unique coaching program, that brings to the college admission context a proven approach, that has been the cornerstone of success for many highly successful people.

Image Credit: Some rights reserved by One Way Stock

The Right Kind Of Dream


“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” President Kennedy said in 1961. At this time, no American had even travelled to space.

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. realized that dream. There were many decisions that led to this landmark achievement, the first, and most important, being we started off with the right kind of dream.

What is the right kind of dream? The right kind of dream

  • is not vague like “be a good student.” It is clear at any point, if you have achieved it or not.
  • has a deadline by when it needs to be achieved.
  • is really hard. There is no formula for success, and even if you do everything you can, there is only a slightly more chance of success than failure.
  • cannot be achieved in a short period of time.
  • will require you to up your game, and get better.

If that sounds a bit like a college admission dreams, it is!

The little known secret of successful people is that they embrace the right kind of dreams, over and over in life. They don’t always succeed, but they know they wouldn’t ever succeed otherwise.

And, they always get better.

Are you ready to embrace your dream? Are you ready to up your game?

What is your differentiator?


To get into the college of your choice, you need not have PERFECT grades and scores and extracurricular activities; in short, you need not be perfect in everything.  Identify what truly stands out in you and realize that as your differentiator.  Remember, you are SPECIAL and your experiences make you the person you are.

Your college admission officer is looking for interesting and unique students.  Being YOU is what makes you unique and interesting.  Bring that out in your essay in your own voice and voila!, you have become that.

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What Do Your Clubs And Your Titles Mean?


Please don’t start another club at school just to impress admissions officers. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t become Executive Director of something meaningless, just to get it on your resume. 

It is true that admissions officers won’t figure out how awesome a leader you are, unless you show them. However, there are better ways to do that. 

Tell them how the stamp collections changed when you and your friends could more easily exchange stamps, and they will know you are an enabler. Tell the stories the stamps tell you, and they will know you are a true stamp enthusiast.

When you say that you started a stamp collector’s club, and grew membership ten fold: don’t expect them to not guess the membership went from 1 to 10, and that most of the people did you a favor when they joined. Admissions officers are too smart for that.

And, more importantly, this little secret will bring you success with college admission and beyond.

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