Tim Tebow: Three Lessons College Applicants Can Learn from the Football Phenomenon

Author: Linda Abraham
Published: January 09, 2012 at 7:45 am

I’m not a football fan. I haven’t a clue what’s the difference between a down and an up in the game. I am not a Christian. Yet, I somehow am aware of Tim Tebow even though I can’t name a single other football player. Why has be become more than just a quarterback? I became mildly curious about the Tebow phenomenon, and a little research convinced me he teaches important lessons to applicants.

First of all, for those of you never heard of Tim Tebow, he is the Denver Broncos’ quarterback, who has sporadically played phenomenal (I’m told) football – even if many don’t consider him a great quarterback. He is also a devout evangelical Christian, who after scoring gets down on bended knee, bows his head, and thanks God. His public displays of piety have garnered as much attention as his playing.

Naturally not everyone agrees with his religious views or his compulsion to display them, but there does seem to be admiration sometimes grudging and sometimes gushing, for his desire to walk the walk of his faith. He strives to be a giving, decent person, to take responsibility for himself, and to express appreciation for assistance be it divine or mortal.

Our celebrities and leaders frequently fail as heroes or role models. Tim Tebow is – at least so far — a refreshing contrast.

Regardless of his longer term impact and consistency, and regardless of whether you find Tebow nauseating or inspiring, what can you as an applicant learn from the Tebow phenomenon? Should you kneel when meeting an admission officer? When you get accepted?

No. Genuflection is not necessary. Devotional displays are not required. Faith isn’t a factor. It’s the stuff behind the bended knee that can help you in the admission process, specifically:

  1. Appreciation. No one has to admit you or even give your application the time of day. Appreciate the efforts of the admissions readers, interviewers, and evaluators. Send your interviewer a thank you note. If you get waitlisted, thank the school for its continued consideration. If someone –- anyone — assists you, say “thank you.” It makes a difference.
  2. Show that you live your values. This is most important in an essay like Stanford Graduate School of Business' “What matters to you most and why?” but you should show that you “walk the walk” throughout your essays and interviews.
  3. Convey integrity and trustworthiness. The Wall St Journal’s video, is entitled “Tim Tebow: Denver’s New Favorite Mensch.” And Tebow comes across as a mensch, a mature, upright, responsible person of integrity. You need to create the same impression whether you are talking to a clerk, shaking hands with the Director of Admissions, or relating a story in your essays.
It goes without saying that these qualities are almost impossible to convey if you don’t have them. However, nurturing them is still easier than faking them. Final bonus: these attributes will help you well beyond your receipt of an admissions decision.


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Article Author: Linda Abraham

Linda Abraham, author of MBA Admission for Smarties, founded Accepted.com in 1994. Since then she has advised thousands of successful applicants to over 450 graduate and professional programs. She has written and lectured widely on admission …

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