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February 27, 2022

2 Minutes Read

Hi friends,

Greetings from New York!

While there are so many atrocities around the world (and around the corner), it would be wrong not to specifically mention Russia's invasion of Ukraine this week. The fog of war is thick, but we can always use history to contextualize the events in our own lifetimes. In this case, it's hard not to see parallels between Putin now and Hitler in 1939.  

Taking another step back, how we interpret history, or even determining what counts as "History," is so often contentious because of the relationship to power. The maxim in Orwell's dystopian novel 1984 is prescient:

Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present, controls the past…

Putin's arguments for war rely on the kind of up-is-down, left-is-right "doublethink" that Orwell urges us to watch out for. You can read a rhetorical analysis here

Meanwhile, many of you will go to school tomorrow and feel the uncertainty of how to best plan for college. There are immediate real decisions to be made like, "should I take calculus or statistics next year?", but I also want you to consider how your concern for the war relates to your college ambitions.

⚡Admissions Insight: Selective colleges are looking to admit students who are genuinely interested in exploring the complexity of history, pay attention to the nuances of language, and are likely to spend time outside of class discussing the logic of an argument. 

You don't need to become a CIA expert on geopolitics, but it's worth thinking about Orwell and what makes something "Orwellian."

The rest of today's Savvy Applicant is shorter than usual, but, as always, if you have questions don't hesitate to hit reply and let me know. 

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⌛ Time In 
Ambitious high schoolers are some of the busiest people I know. Constantly triaging a flow of competing demands on your time can be overwhelming to say the least. As college application season adds even more to your to-do list, it's really important to spread things out over time. 
We all put things off to a certain extent, but re-framing our attitude toward procrastination can be a game changer. We tend to procrastinate not because we're lazy, but because we're avoiding some pretty unpleasant emotions. Read why we procrastinate and then watch this "easy and fun" video that can help.
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A few more things...


  • 💌Letters That Work: Letters of recommendation are unfair because some teachers and counselors have less time to get to know their students and write a nuanced evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses. Colleges understand, but most acknowledge the positive impact of a strong letter.
  • 💰Your Brain on Money: College is an investment in the future, but it's always best if families have a frank conversation about how much they can/are willing to pay for it earlier rather than later. Morgan Housel's The Psychology of Money provides insight on how we think about the cost of college.
  • 🌿Anxious Bulldogs: Students at Yale are struggling. Laurie Santos, the professor who teaches their most popular course on happiness, explains why.

And I'll leave you with a quote about war from an existential philosopher and a visual representation of Orwellian Doublethink. 

🗣️Quote: "When the rich wage war, it's the poor who die." - Jean-Paul Sartre


📸Image: What would you do if a teacher wrote this on this board? 

1984 Image