After a pizza dinner to kick off College Essay Night last October, a senior and I found ourselves still planted in our seats, fully engaged in discussing his essay after everyone else had left the dining hall. I knew going into this favorite annual event, I would be moved to the same level of gratification that I had found the previous two years. It is mostly a feeling of admiration for students who have worked tirelessly to construct a meaningful personal statement. And, a sense of relief, because the students are less anxious after having put this major hurdle is behind them. Whether it is through a college essay or a classroom discussion, or even a casual gathering at lunch in the same dining hall, we all learn things about each other on any given day. This is the custom at VMS due to the close-knit community of which we are a part. However, what I didn’t expect going in to the evening was a piece of advice from a college essay that most likely will remain with me forever. Elegantly simple, the advice was, “Don’t be a flake.” It only took me reading the words once for them to resonate, just as they have apparently resonated with the boy who originally heard the same words delivered from his grandfather’s mouth years ago. To adults, the indirect passing of such advice could mean that children and teenagers do listen. To a college counselor, it is this type of communication that indicates the delicate and authentic fabric of each student. Personally, I don’t consider myself a flake, but when we are up against a challenge or are contemplating the easy road, it is the degree of integrity involved in presenting ourselves that says the most about us. More importantly, regardless of the special meaning that it may hold for any one of us, “Don’t be a flake” is sage advice for approaching the college search process thoroughly and well (don’t miss the upcoming January 1 deadline), and thus, worth sharing. Pass it on!