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Season 1 Episode 9 Original AirDate October 24, 2018

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#9 Canh Oxelson's College Journey: Good Student, Great Athlete. Bi-Racial. Adopted.

This episode is packed with valuable golden nuggets for parents, teens, athletes, students struggling with identity, and students who have gifts and talents in something other than academics. Canh Oxelson's shares his real life journey to college. It is one of the most real and candid interviews I've had. Trust me, this one is fabulous!

OK, but I digress. What is the message of this episode? Interested Students Become Interesting Applicants. Period.

Students ask, "What do I do? How will I stand out?" They want THE answer.

What is the RIGHT answer? What is the formula to solve this problem? What do I need to study, do, or repeat to earn a perfect grade, score, time, goal? In many ways school teaches us there is a right and wrong, and as long as we can figure out the “right” way, we will be rewarded.

It is no wonder college applicants everywhere are in search of the magic answer, the perfect formula, or the exact path to find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Canh Oxelson, Admission Counselor and leader for over 20 years, believes that students want to believe the admission process is “Fair.” If it is not fair, it must be the opposite, which is, biased. While admission officers may not refer to their work as “fair,” they might use words such as, compassionate, candid, honest, principled, and equitable.

So, what is the right answer? The best advice Canh Oxelson offers is this, “Be Interesting.” Learn more on Destination: YOUniversity!



  • about 12 minutes: "I was a good student, but not great student. What I was great at was swimming."

  • about minute 20: Find out where Canh Oxelson applied and where he was admitted and denied.

  • about minute 25: Canh Oxelson answers the question, "Is this process fair?"

  • about minute 30: Canh Oxelson answers the question, "How do you become more interesting?" We discuss the "Coolness" Factor. Canh Oxelson shares the tale of one "modestly" talented student and how that student stood out in the application process.

  • about minute 40: How does a teenager figure out their "Coolness" Factor?

Canh Oxelson is the Executive Director of College Counseling at Horace Mann School in the Bronx, NY. Currently, he is also organizing the New Counselor Series & Workshop for ACCIS (Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools). Canh Oxelson began his college admissions career at his alma mater, the University of San Francisco, where he earned a B.A. in Psychology. After short stints in admissions at USF, Saint Mary's College of California, and the University of California at Santa Cruz, he earned an M.Ed. in Educational Policy from Harvard's Graduate School of Education. Afterwards, Canh Oxelson returned to admissions as the Director of Multicultural Recruitment for the University of Pennsylvania. His jump to college counseling came in 2003, when he became an Upper School Dean at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, CA. In 2011, Canh moved east to lead the college counseling effort at Horace Mann School.

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