You can take two equally brilliant children, who are equally hard working and one will get into an Ivy League college with a pile of scholarships while the other will get into a good state school and have a pile of student loans. How does this happen?
An anecdote: Growing up, there was a very bright child whose mother was a brilliant packager. The child, “Jaydee” won every competition, every scholarship, and was in the local papers each week. When Jaydee applied for college, prestigious colleges were actually bidding for Jaydee. Other kids (with equal grades) were HOPING for a single acceptance letter. Why was Jaydee so valued by colleges? Was it really that he was more brilliant than all the other children at his school? No, his mother was a “packager”. She scouted out opportunities for him (Contests, scholarships, events), which made him more appealing to other awards/contests/scholarships. She helped him attend great opportunities. She helped him attend impressive internships, write an impressive application and resume. Awards attract awards.
A more personal anecdote: My son has always been attracted by Science and Math. He naturally gravitates to it. When he was very young, he won a few Math and Science competitions. These were easy, non-competitive local competitions. As he got older and started applying for more prestigious awards, each application asked, “What awards have you won?” As he had a few minor awards under his belt, he had something to write on those applications (which his friends did not.) Of course, he won the more prestigious awards because his application could list a long list of various awards that he had already won. Awards attract awards.
So what does this mean? This means that if you want your child to be sought after, you need to chase after interesting awards and opportunities. They should match up with your child’s interests (otherwise you will never be able to make him/ her do them) and should be stepping stones to where and what they want to do in the future.
Even if they fail (they are not the kid that wins first place), it may motivate your child to work harder and it will put you on a mailing list for similar opportunities. Other parents are always asking me, “how did you find out about X seminar/competition/ internship?” and I honestly tell them, “I received a mailer/email about it.” You get on mailing lists and people will tell you about other interesting opportunities.
In an upcoming article I will tell you what opportunities there still are in this age of cancelled opportunities (Covid-19), and how to “package your child” in this age of Covid-19.
In the meantime, happy wrapping!