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College Search Lessons from Lasso

Kristina Dooley September 16, 2021

A few months ago I was chatting with a friend about how little time I spend watching TV shows because there’s just not anything that’s captured my interest lately. 

“Even ‘Ted Lasso’?” she asked me.

“Haven’t seen it,” I said.

Then, the gushing began. At least a dozen reasons why I had to add it to my queue, and a guarantee that I had to trust her on this. Her final comment was something about thanking her later.

So, here’s that “thank you”, my friend...

If you aren’t yet rooting for AFC Richmond, or pledging your loyalty to Team Tartt or Team Kent, then what follows won’t mean much to you. On the flipside, if you’re cheering for Ted from your own version of The Crown and Anchor AND you’re beginning the college search process, these 5 “Lessons from Lasso” are for you.

Now, let’s get to the pitch (see what I did there?)...

Don’t Let Others Tell You If You’ll Succeed

When Ted first took on the head coaching position for AFC Richmond, most people laughed him off and assumed he was destined for failure. He was a football coach, after all, not a soccer coach. It soon became apparent that what mattered most was his passion for coaching and not his experience with a particular sport. He was open to learning and, most importantly, he committed time to do just that. In the same way, the vast majority of prospective college students won’t have had much experience in the academic area they are considering. While certain baseline “skills” may be necessary for certain majors (like math proficiency for aspiring engineers), the reality is that the willingness and ability to learn is often the best predictor of success at the collegiate level. So, don’t just let others tell you what you’ll be good at or not. Follow your passions and prove to them that you’ve got what it takes to be successful.

Limit Your Beards

When Ted begins his coaching gig in England he’s accompanied by his trusty assistant coach, Beard. What makes their relationship so special is that Coach Beard is a man of few words...but the words he does share are thoughtful and impactful. Ted relies on Beard not to call the plays, but to give him good advice when he needs it. It may be tempting for you to seek input from friends, family and others on everything from your college list, what to write about in your essays, and whether or not you should submit test scores. Instead, you should limit how many people you’re inviting to join you as you’re making your application decisions, essay revisions and final college plans. The reality is that the more Beards you have in the kitchen, the hairier the meal becomes...and that’s just gross.

Don’t Be a Led Tasso

At the beginning of Season 2, viewers are introduced to Ted’s alter-ego: Led Tasso. This re-imagined opposite version of the always-positive coach arrives as Ted begins to feel like his kind approach is just not working with the AFC Richmond team. Led is angry, mean, and is everything the real Ted is not. While Ted feels like this is the way he’ll finally earn some respect from his team, it doesn’t quite go as planned. Similarly, you may feel a pull to become someone you truly aren’t during the college application process. You may be searching for things to “add” to your profiles so you can appear to be somehow more than you truly are. The truth is that these attempts at becoming someone you really aren’t just takes the focus away from all of the authentic things that make you who your friends and family love. The reality is that every college admission officer is interested in knowing what brings you joy, what makes you great and who you’ll actually be on their campus. They will always prefer your Ted Lasso to your Led Tasso.

Bring Biscuits

One of Ted Lasso’s signature qualities is his ability to thank those who contribute to his success. Even when the gesture is small, he always seems to make sure people know they are appreciated. When he instituted “Biscuits with the Boss” with AFC Richmond team owner, Rebecca, he didn’t realize how much the small pink box of deliciousness would impact his relationship with her. His authenticity with gift-giving was a great example of showing someone you value them and their time without the expectation of reciprocity. This same genuineness can be incredibly impactful when it comes to showing appreciation to those who help you throughout your college search and application process. Teachers, counselors, tutors...even parents. You should consider who has been with you along the way and take the time to show them that their support was valued. While a pink box of biscuits is great, a simple handwritten note or email of thanks can go just as far in letting someone know you value their time and contribution to your success.

Be a Goldfish

Probably the most repeated quote from the show, but also the one that can resonate with all of us: Be a goldfish. When Ted is trying to pull one of his players, Sam, out of a slump after a game, he asks him:

“What’s the happiest animal in the world? Goldfish. You know why the goldfish is the happiest animal on earth? Got a 10 second memory.”

One of the most difficult parts of the college application process is potentially dealing with rejection. There’s no question that receiving a “no” from a college stings. It’s hard for students not to feel like this decision is a reflection on who they are and what they’ve accomplished up to this point. But, taking Ted’s advice into consideration, this is exactly a great time to be a goldfish. Take a brief moment (10 seconds, to be exact) to feel all the feels...but then move on and focus on those colleges who have invited you to join their communities. Redirect your energy towards the exciting adventure that awaits you as you move forward on this journey. 

Finally, here’s just one more brief Lesson from Lasso as you navigate the college search process:


Now, who’s got some of those biscuits to share?

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Tagged: college admission, college applications, college planning, college search, college rejection, college decision, Ted Lasso

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