This next few weeks have a few important dates for me personally and professionally (long post):
- Accepted.com’s 10-year Anniversary. On (or around) July 4, 1996 I launched our first web site at http://www.accepted.com, where we have resided for the last ten years. At the time the business was called Linda Abraham and Associates. The business exploded after I launched the web site and for the first time I really needed additional editors, i.e. associates. Ironically soon after, I changed the business’ name to "Accepted.com." At the time, the web as a commercial medium was in its infancy, and long articles appeared regularly in the press about how you can’t make money on the web. Large corporations were throwing away millions on unprofitable sites. I, forced by necessity, decided to learn basic HTML so that I could inexpensively experiment with the new-fangled idea of a web site to demonstrate expertise and publicize my application essay editing service. It was almost immediately profitable. Accepted.com wasn’t the first, but it was definitely one of the earliest application editing services on the web. I’ll be coming back to this topic over the next several weeks with (embarrassing) screen shots of the original site, reflections on the changes in admissions over the last ten years, and maybe a few predictions on where admissions is heading.
- GMAC panel. This Friday I participate in the GMAC panel "Admissions Consultants: Love ’em; Hate ’em; Use ’em at the GMAC’s annual conference in San Francisco. On the panel with me are Graham Richmond of Clear Admit, Maxx Duffy of Maxx Associates, and Ricardo Betti of Brazil’s MBA Empresarial. It has been a pleasure working with these admissions professionals, and we have all worked hard to prepare an informative and educational presentation, to be followed by what I suspect will be a lively Q&A session. To my knowledge this conference represents the first time a graduate admissions organization has invited private admissions consultants to present at a conference. Kudos to GMAC for implicitly acknowledging the growing role of admissions consultants in graduate admissions, allowing a dialogue to start between the schools and consultants, and helping us presenters whenever we needed anything along the way. I will write more about the actual presentation after Friday.
- Our youngest child graduates and turns 18 this week. No more minor children. She keeps reminding me of the significance of many moments: "Mom, this is the last permission slip you will ever need to sign." "Mom this is the last payment you will need to make to my high school." She conveniently ignores the fact that I am replacing high school tuition with more expensive college tuition. I’m also still waiting for her to stop calling me to kill bugs and spiders whose appearance causes panic attacks. But I can’t ignore the fact that the youngest of our five children is becoming an adult — at least legally.
Now if I were writing a personal statement or application essay I would find some meaningful, common thread to tie these events together. Hmm… Let me think. Is there a common thread in these seemingly disparate milestones? I feel a sense of pride as I relate them. Why?
In all three cases, I didn’t just go with what I did before. I was willing to try something new.
My husband and I could not raise our youngest child just as we raised the older ones, because she is as different from them as they are from each other. After all ten years ago, our freckle-faced, petite daughter was struggling with multiplication tables (most of the others take after their actuary father and find math intuitive ). She eventually mastered the four functions or at least the calculator. The freckles faded as she grew into a lovely, very independent young woman. She is a bright, accomplished student, but her passion is not academics; it’s community service and organization. (We have just learned to say, "Yes boss.") My husband and I have tried to let her shine in accordance with her strengths and talents. Her many awards are first and foremost a credit to her, but perhaps they also attest that we did something right.
Putting Accepted.com on the web allowed the business to grow by leaps and bounds, not just in terms of revenue, but in terms of global reach and innovative programs and products. But programming that original site ten years ago was something entirely new for me! I never programmed anything at that point — not even the VCR — and I am, shall we say, graphically challenged. Nonetheless, I tried it. And creativity became an important element in running the business. I couldn’t just go with same ol, same ‘ol. Just as I couldn’t when raising children. True, not everything worked or was profitable, but enough of my experiments were successful so that the business thrived, and I enjoy the constant challenge and need to innovate.
Similarly reaching out to GMAC and my competition to develop the GMAC Admissions Consultants panel takes me in an entirely new direction. The response to our session on Friday will indicate whether we accomplish my initial goal as stated in the original session proposal: "Attendees will understand what admissions consultants do and the positive role they play in the admissions process." But in the meantime I have found that preparing our presentation with Graham, Maxx, and Ricardo has been most enjoyable and rewarding. I hope my competitors/colleagues and I will continue to work together to further our industry, even as we vigorously compete in the marketplace.