Find Your Passion and the Rest Will Follow

By Alison Vandenburgh on September 07, 2013
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How do you get the most out of your years in high school? There is so much that I could say! I suppose the easiest way to go about this would be to start from the beginning, before you’ve heard back from the schools you applied to, before you’ve even applied.

The best thing that you can do to prepare yourself for college applications and to make yourself the most attractive applicant possible to your favorite schools is simple: make yourself stand out. I know, easier said than done.

There will always be those kids, the ones that went to Africa to research some unheard-of disease, or who were president of their class four years straight. But you don’t have to travel to a remote country or be the shining star of your school to be different and for your application to jump out of that stack of hundreds, no thousands, of others.

Focus on what you enjoy

What you need is to find something that you’re passionate about and be the best at it that you can be. Some students think that by involving themselves in as many things as possible that they can wow the admissions representatives reading their application. But not only will that stretch you thin emotionally and mentally, it can put a stress on your grades (something you don’t want showing up on your transcript).

When I was in high school I really loved to sing. Singing, and music in general, was a passion of mine, and it is to this day. I joined a touring choir my freshman year in high school and, in addition to dozens of concerts around my hometown during the year, each summer I would go on tour with the rest of the girls, sometimes even out of the country.

On one of these tours, during an outdoor concert in a small town square, I sang my first solo. It was such a memorable experience that I actually wrote my college admissions essay on it! I wrote about the scenery, how nervous I was to be singing in front of all of those people and the elation I felt afterwards knowing I had succeeded.

Separate yourself with a great essay

A great admissions essay is one of the easiest ways to set yourself apart, so many students pick cookie-cutter topics or even make simple grammar mistakes, things that immediately put up a red flag to whoever is reading their application. An interesting, entertaining and well-written essay will get you far.

So how do you do this? First, as I said, pick the thing you’re passionate about and think of one really memorable experience. Next, write it out! It doesn’t matter if your first try isn’t perfect; I wrote and re-wrote mine more times than I can remember.

Lastly, have at least one other person read it for you to catch little mistakes and give you an outside perspective. And, when you’re done, breathe a little sigh of relief; with so many colleges using the Common Application these days, you may be able to use that essay for all of your applications!

Once you do get to college, having that activity that you’re passionate about is a great way to meet people! College is full of new activities and clubs, and it can be overwhelming how many choices there are. Having an idea of what you like will lead you to the sorts of people you’re compatible with and make the transition to college life that much easier.

So there you go! To set yourself apart from the pack in college applications and to prepare the way for your future, pick a passion, it will stay with you for life.

About the Author

Alison Vandenburgh

Alison Vandenburgh

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