In Kindness Communication’s latest Kind Business, Kind Results discussion, I spoke with Carol Barash, Founder and CEO of Story2. Story2 works with students to help them tell their most authentic story as a way to achieve college admission success. Unlike most other college admission support services, Story2 focuses on helping students be their own best advocate. The company offers a mix of online tools and coaching to help students explore their own stories and transform them into authentic writing for college, work, and life. It promotes the idea that telling stories unlocks a bigger, bolder life, beyond getting into college. I deeply appreciate the way they introduce this level of empathy and kindness to the highly fraught, stressful world of students aspiring to get accepted at colleges of their choice.
Here is a transcript of the discussion:
College admissions place so much stress on students and parents. The process can seem cold, even cruel, to aspiring students. How does Story2 work to make it kinder, truer to student needs, and better in outcomes?
The college admissions process has become very commodified and transactional. Students struggle to get top grades and test scores, as if these are ends if themselves—and in the process, they often lose sight of their own purpose and possibilities in the world. Story2 encourages students to start with who they are, what they bring to college, and what they want to achieve and contribute once they get there. When you reflect on the experiences that shaped who you are today, and imagine what type of world you want to create with your unique gifts and talents, the process becomes much more positive and there is tremendous potential for student learning and growth. Students who use Story2 storytelling tools to write their college admission and scholarship essays consistently outperform students with similar grades and test scores. When you reveal your honest and authentic character—in college admissions, job search, or any part of life—people respond and want to help you.
What do you do with communities of educators and admissions professionals to promote more kindness in the process?
First of all we help students and counselors to organize all parts of the admissions process—and especially all the different essays—so they can spend their precious time on the parts that really matter. Students can write better essays; teachers can provide one-on-one feedback; and counselors can spend time with students who most need their help. We encourage students to approach college admissions as a team sport, and to help everyone get to the shared goal of college completion with minimal debt.
How do the values that you’ve described affect the working culture at Story2, how people work together, and how you lead the business?
We try to make Story2 a “judgement free zone.” If something goes wrong—and of course it will; that’s life—we try to look at the situation without shame or blame and see what we can learn and do differently next time. We created an instrument for team reflection that I’m quite proud of. It’s call an AOLP, short for Achievements Obstacles, Learning and Priorities. We created the AOLP at first to help students look at their work, day by day, with an eye to what was working and what they were learning—and what they wanted to work on next. When we applied it to our own work, we realized how much we actually do each day, and how much we could learn and grow if we pulled out even on thing we wanted to work on—our priority—for the next day.
To learn more about Story2, visit their website at www.story2.com. You can experiment with their EssayBuilder to learn more about their step-by-step, kindness-based process for completing powerful college essays, or help out high school students and parents you know by sharing the link with them.
Kind Business, Kind Results is a monthly series of posts in which Kindness Communication interviews business leaders who strongly exemplify kindness values and practices. If you’d like to participate, please reach out.