Why You Shouldn’t Trust Your Friends Advice

Happy Friends Three Hug Friendship People 4256534

It’s application season and I’m getting a lot of candidates that are coming to me with really bad information from friends and family. It’s time to stop the madness. Here are the top 5 friends that will bring you down during the admissions process.

Yes Men: Sure, boss!

Some friends just tell you what you want to hear to keep things as frictionless as possible: Bad hair day? — “You look great”. Breath smell? — (Nose hairs burning) Fresh and clean! Maybe you’re the cool kid or in a position of power where others don’t want to tell you what they think, or perhaps you just aren’t approachable with feedback. Regardless of the reason, you want to avoid the Yes Man at all costs. I’m very honest with people during our free consultations at Admit Advantage and, although they may not like to hear it, most people appreciate the honesty – it’s going to save you a lot of time and money during the application process.

“Saboteurs”: They don’t want you to succeed

You know that friend that let you walk around all day with a booger on the outside of your nose and didn’t say a word all day? That’s the saboteur. I can almost guarantee you that some of your colleagues or even friends don’t want you to take the leap to college or graduate school. That’s the unfortunate truth. If you have a “weird” feeling that someone may be in this camp, RUN (don’t walk) from their advice no matter how good it sounds. Surround yourself with people that want you to succeed – the process is difficult enough without introducing additional roadblocks.

jim carrey car window
jim carrey car window

“Dummies”: Not the brightest of the bunch

C’mon, be honest – you have at least one dumb friend. You know the friend: the one whose suggestion it was to drive to Cancun from Chicago for Spring Break. Or the work colleague who wanted to expense poker chips at the conference in Vegas. Yes, we all have them. While they may make for great fun, great stories, and the random nostalgic laugh keep them out of the admissions process and call on them when it’s time to celebrate your admission decisions!

“Besties”: They’re too close

This one is simple. Best friends have a tough time forgetting that they’re best friends and giving you the advice you need. They also have a hard time seeing blemishes in your story because they know the best in you (or the opposite). Best friends may also take it personally if you don’t follow their advice. Good friends are great for reading your essays because they can tell you if the “real” you is coming out – not always so good for strategic advice.

“Outliers”: They think you can do it since they did it

Maybe you’re a runner and you have a friend who never runs, doesn’t really look in amazing shape, but you take him out to run with you and he leaves you gasping for air. That is the outlier. The outlier is a dangerous character because you see the results of the outlier and think you can do the exact same thing. “He had a XXX test score and got into XXX school..I can DEFINITELY get in since my scores were higher. This can be very dangerous because the outlier will lead you to believe that because you went to the same school, have similar scores, etc, you can follow the same pathway to success. Possible, but not always the case. Remember this: Every person, every admissions cycle and every situation is unique.

All of this being said, it is OK to solicit feedback (depending on the person) from family and friends, but just try to seek outside advice from people who know what they’re talking about and are willing to give you honest feedback.

Eric is the President of the admissions consulting company, Admit Advantage.  Eric has his B.S. from Brown University and his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.  Eric previously served on the admissions committee at Wharton.