7 Habits that lead to Spectacular Failure

Cliché: Kick the habit.    
POCS Reality: Certain traits can derail college success and lead to failure.


There are skills that can lead you to success and habits that can doom you to failure.  I was reading the Forbes article The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives  and immediately thought of similar traits in the college-bound.

Colleges look for leadership abilities in their applicants but students must be careful to avoid the dark side. Here are 7 habits that can lead to spectacular failure:

  1. Conceit Top grades, stellar test scores and glowing recommendations illustrate high achievement that attracts attention. However, smugness and arrogance can derail this fast track to college success.
  2. One-dimension Relying on academics only takes students so far. Colleges also want their campus filled students who demonstrate a strong passion in an extracurricular activity or interest.
  3. Know-it-all Life-changing opportunities await students in college. Making snap decisions, before weighing all the pros and cons or asking for advice, can lead to disaster.
  4. Bullying Competition, jokes and pranks can be fun or destructive, good natured or spiteful. College campuses are more sensitive than ever to hazing and harassing.
  5. Show-off College campuses are a community. Negative attention can lead to a bad reputation that is difficult to shake.
  6. Self-doubt Lacking confidence and low self-esteem can hinder maximizing your college experience and taking full advantage of your higher education opportunities.
  7. Inflexible What works in the past may not thrive in the future. Change may not be easy but may be necessary to get back to the path for college success.

Read more: 7 Skills to college success students already have.

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: If any of these traits describe you, now is the time to ditch the habits that can lead to spectacular failure and start planning for college success.

How the last 6 years prepares you for success

Cliché: A recipe for success.    
POCS Reality: Certain skills are necessary for success.


Time may fly but knowledge gained from experience can last a life-time and prepare you for success in the years ahead.

 I just read What 15-years as a stay-at-home mom taught me about entrepreneurship and I thought about the college-bound.

What skills have students learned that are critical for college success?

From middle school through high school, here are essential skills for success the college-bound have learned:

  1. Listen Whether it’s paying attention to parents, teachers, employers, siblings or peers, students know when to tune in for vital info.
  2. Question “Why” may be the most common query of the young but asking the right questions to find sought after answers is a skill that students practice.
  3. Adapt A plethora of cliques dominate the teen years. Meeting, mingling and managing co-existence with many styles and personalities is key.
  4. Adjust With new privileges come new responsibilities. Students must follow the rules and adjust to new situations.
  5. Creative Essays, papers and projects require research and thought. Whether alone or in groups, students create new material.
  6. Resilience Teen years are filled with highs and lows. Keeping perspective means balancing conceit and disappointment
  7. Manage time Homework, clubs, sports, friends and family claim attention. Fitting all commitments in before deadlines is crucial.

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: Abilities to listen and question, adapt and adjust, maintain focus and create within deadlines are life skills. Add in financial savvy (some students may already have this) and these skills can lead to success in college and beyond.

SAT scam as a business

Cliché: Business as usual.    
POCS Reality: College admission testing is a big business.


The recent 60 Minutes interview with accused Long Island SAT cheater Sam Eshaghoff showed how cheating on the SAT can be run like a business.

Key elements are satisfying clients with reliable service and providing a good product. With 16 test-taking times worth of high SAT scores to boast, word of Eshaghoff’s success spread until it reached the ears of officials at his alma mater, Great Neck North High School, who notified the proper authorities. Arrests of both test taker and test hirers were made and charges filed.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice called the 19-year-old Emory University sophomore an “academic gun for hire” leading to a “huge fraud…lots of money changing hands, there were high stakes involved, and there was forgery; there was criminal impersonation.” She also described SAT scams as a nationwide “big business” that has been going on for decades with a big pay-off and little risk sometimes run by middlemen brokers who match test hirers with test takers.

How big was the money? Eshaghoff recieved an $1,100 tip for fees up to $2,500 and there were bidding wars for his service.

High scores on the SAT college admission test can increase chances for admission and eligibility for financial aid based on merit. Colleges seeking a diverse student body will not take all, even if qualified, students but high SAT scores can improve a schools’ ranking. As an inducement for sought-after students to attend, merit money can be offered.

Colleges are not informed when test results occur from SAT scams. Admitted students with fraudulently obtained higher scores can hurt honest, hard-working students when the former gets one of the few admission spots or a higher financial aid award.

According to the records of ETS, the test administrators, 3 million students take the SATs and 99% of them are honest or at least not found to be cheating. ETS is concerned there may be an overreaction to the SAT scandal.

READ more: SAT scam was a successful LI business

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: SAT scores are an important factor in the college admission process and warrant appropriate safeguards, reporting methods and penalties for fraud to protect the integrity of the college admission process. Sadly, such fraud seems to be a well-known local secret waiting to be publicized by courageous and honest students, parents, school officials and other community members.

10 Reasons not to file a FAFSA

Cliché:  I don’t need this.    
POCS Reality: The FAFSA is a Free Application for Federal Student Aid for eligible students seeking help to pay for college.


There are billions of dollars in federal financial aid available for eligible students to help pay for college if they ask for it but not everyone wants to submit a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Despite the urgings to apply for aid from government, college and private advisors, there are those that fail to file.

Here are 5 good reasons why not to file a FAFSA:

  1. You can afford all college costs; you don’t want/need more money.

  2. You don’t qualify for free money.

  3. You don’t want a student loan.

  4. Even if offered, you wouldn’t accept a Federal Work/Study job.

  5. Your college awards merit money to students without regard to financial need.

Here are 5 bad reasons why not to file a FAFSA:

    6.  The FAFSA is too complicated.

  1. You are too busy.

  2. You assume you don’t qualify for need-based aid (but don’t really know).

  3. You want to increase your admission chances (but without aid cannot attend).

  4. Your tax returns aren’t completed yet.

Visit my colleague Suzanne Shaffer (Parents Countdown to College Coach) for 10 Reasons To File a FAFSA. Suzanne is a college prep expert and online college-bound “coach” helping parents navigate the college maze with the proper tools/resources including a FREE parent tips newsletter.

 POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: If you don’t want or need money for college, do not apply for financial aid. If you do want aid, apply as soon as possible because some colleges give out their own funds to the early birds, first. Students may be eligible for funds from their state’s financial aid program but only if they file a FAFSA first. Colleges determine their own formula for distributing institutional funds and some use a need-merit combo requiring a FAFSA. When filing early in January/February, use income estimates and update your FAFSA after your income tax forms are filed. There are billions of dollars of financial aid available. If you don’t ask for financial aid, you better have a good reason not to file a FAFSA.