Fred Hargadon on College Admission and the Dodecahedron

Last week Fred Hargadon passed away. Hargadon worked in admissions at Swarthmore, Stanford and Princeton. In any room where college admissions people meet, there will be Fred Hargadon anecdotes. (We have several in our book!) He was a great communicator, with a dead aim for the college application process, conveyed with compassion and a wry sense of humor.  His acceptance letters from Princeton famously began with the single word "YES!," a phrase now carved in stone in front of Princeton's Hargadon Hall, the dormitory named in his honor.

Joyce Smith, executive director of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, recently shared a letter Hargadon wrote to prospective students and we'd like to share it with you. You have to love a letter that citesThe Phantom Tollbooth, Harry Potter's sorting hat, SAT scores and becoming bilingual. 

Here's one of our favorite pieces of advice:

I'd even go so far as to recommend that you sketch out a tentative plan of what it is you wish to accomplish in college (not a plan of what you want to do after college, but in college), keeping in mind that you're likely to alter it as you go along. You probably will find yourself making some changes in it even between now and next year. It just seems to me that the better the handle you try to get now on at least some of the ways in which you hope to change and grow as a result of your college experience, the better you will be able to identify those colleges that appear most likely to meet your needs. (For example, whether your goal right now happens to be becoming a doctor, or an engineer, or a writer, you might decide that you also want to leave college having become bilingual, or having mastered a musical instrument, or having gained more than a superficial appreciation of art, or having taken up the sport of rowing. I regret, for instance, that l didn't spend some of my time in college learning to play the piano, however thankful my friends may be that I didn't. As someone once wisely pointed out, the person you will spend most of your life with is yourself, and therefore you owe it to yourself to become as interesting as possible.)

Read the whole thing here. You'll be glad you did. 

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