The Career Doctor™

by Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez

Looking for a first job? Thinking of changing careers? Facing a lay-off? The Career Doctor™ is a Larchmont psychologist specializing in career counseling. If you'd like to ask a question of your own, use the anonymous , and she might answer you here. Read more about the Career Doctor here. Contact in ation is here.


An 8th grader wrote me the following letter. I thought this young, long-term planner brought up such interesting questions, that I advised him about career issues last week, and this week I want to give him some tips about getting into good schools.

Dear Career Doctor:

Hey! I'm in 8th grade and, yes, I know I'm young! But I'm just the kind of person who wants to have a life plan. I have been wanting to be a doctor all my life, but all the sudden I am having second thoughts! I love public speaking, I express myself openly, and I'm not sure if being a lawyer is now my destined job. Both of these jobs seem like the right one. I also am a strong leader. My high school is really selective and I'm not sure I'll get into the right classes. WHAT DO I DO??

Jess I.

Dear Jess:

I understand why you are worried about getting into the "right" classes, because the most selective colleges want their students to have taken tough courses. So try to get into some of the AP classes. But if you can't get in, here are some other things that will enhance your application:

1. Get to know your teachers and college advisors. Teacher recommendations are very important. The difference between a teacher who raves about you and one who gives a tepid endorsement can be key.

2. Take the tough science courses. This will help you decide whether medical school is right for you.

3. Take an SAT prep course and work at expanding your vocabulary. Selective schools want you to have a 1400. (But if they know that your parents did not go to college, and you did not grow up in a home that expanded your knowledge and vocabulary, you can get away with a 1200.)

4. Develop one or two deep interests. Colleges are not necessarily looking for well -rounded applicants with lots of interests. Instead, they want to create a diverse community with students who have strong individual interests. So use ninth and tenth grade as a time to try many activities to see which ones you most enjoy. Then concentrate on achieving some success or depth of knowledge/experience in the one or two areas you like best. Try to have a leadership position, if possible by your senior year.

5. Practice your essay writing techniques. You have several years to find the right topic for your college admissions essay: one that grabs the reader up front and tells something important about who you are. But it's never too early to start becoming a good essay writer. Admissions officers read 15-20 essays a day, so they appreciate good writing and a topic that isn't boring. They probably read 100 essays on "How I discovered poverty on my summer vacation in Costa Rica," so you have years to come up with something more creative.

The Career Doctor



The Career Doctor™ is Larchmont psychologist and career counselor, Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez.

Her office is at 90 Beechtree Drive in Larchmont, 914-834-1982.

For more in ation go to