Chelsea came to us with a great GPA, fantastic test scores and a strong, eclectic activity list.
However, Chelsea did not see her own activity list as strong. She considered activities such as her year spent as the president of her school’s DIY craft club, or her time as the leader of a special education school outreach group both to be a “waste”, even though she loved them! When it came time to write college essays, Chelsea was convinced she had to write about some of her more “normal” activities, even though she wasn’t passionate about them, and didn’t think she had gained anything valuable from the activities she was interested in.
There were a few ways that we could have guided Chelsea:
- Let her write about the topics she considered important, even though she didn’t really enjoy them or participate heavily. The time she won a math competition, the time she went to a debate competition… these were the things she thought admissions would “want” to hear about, and not her “useless” passions, however unique.
- Discuss with her about why her passions are far more interesting to colleges than what she thinks they want to hear, and that nothing she has put so much time and energy into is “useless”.
- In order to keep up with looming deadlines, simply tell her what topics to write about.
The Admissionado Approach
Chelsea came to us right as application season was beginning, so we needed to get started quickly! Once we began the brainstorming, we had a decision to make: do we go with the topics that Chelsea was very eager to write about? The topics she assumed colleges would want to hear, even though she didn’t really care about them? Or do we take the time to explain to her why the things she really loved doing in high school were valuable topics that would show off her passion, drive and creativity? Well, it took many hours of discussion, but we knew how important it was to show Chelsea that she had gained valuable skills and life experiences from ALL of her activities in high school, and especially the ones she thought were weird or unimportant.
The top school she was accepted to was UCLA! Ultimately, Chelsea decided on UT Austin, because of their strong business program and her family in the city. She is excited to begin her freshman year in the fall!
Chelsea is inquisitive, independent, and has a natural empathy for those around her that is inspiring. Through all of our discussions and reflection on her life and experiences, I got to watch her blossom into someone brimming with confidence and enthusiasm for her own passions and direction in life. It was amazing to watch! Her caring nature, newfound confidence, and desire to always help those around her will take her far.