Preparing for College

Admission Edge for CEO's Child?

Question: I am a high school junior and my father is CEO/founder of a profitable business. Might this help my admission chances at some competitive business colleges? I plan on taking over the company in the future.

It would be helpful to have two key pieces of information:

1) The names of the "competitive business colleges" on your list

2) The name of the company that your dad heads (or at least whether or not it's one that is widely known).

With these details, we may be able to provide a better answer. However, regardless of your response, it's unlikely that your father's CEO status will help you in the admissions process unless his company is SO prominent that he could be considered a VIP and/or if he is in a position to make a significant gift to the school (like maybe a building or at least the wing of one :-) ). Most admission officials are trained to keep an eye out for students whom they label with such terms as "Advancement Office pushes." While different colleges use different language, this concept is the same everywhere. It means, "These folks may give us a lot of dough, if we take their kid."

However, even if your family IS prepared to make a major gift to your top-choice college, conveying that news appropriately can be dicey. Most admission officials don't respond well to what they perceive as bribes. So if you do want the word to get out that you will come to campus with bags of money, then you need to handle this with some degree of diplomacy.

Another strategy you can try is to enlist your father's company to do something useful for the college(s) in question right now ... e.g., the company could take on several student summer interns or might donate piles of whatever product the company produces, if applicable. (This, obviously, is a more effective ploy if your father makes computers or calculators or even cookies than it is if he's in the disposable diaper business.) This gambit would also be more successful if you were younger and your father's firm had several years to build up "equity" with your target colleges, but it may not be too late to give it a shot anyway.

As for your OWN role as the future boss, colleges may not be as impressed by that as by what you have accomplished ALREADY. If your essay or resume includes evidence of paid work experience, it will be a plus at decision time. This work experience can range from making a real contribution at your father's firm (e.g., generating and implementing a bright idea to enhance the business) to running the fry-o-lator at your local Mickey D's.

In any case, it's important for you to tread carefully so that you won't come across as a briber or a braggart and so that you don't send the message that you expect to breeze into college based largely on what your FAMILY--and not YOU-- achieved.