We’ve seen this scene a million times – the young fresh-faced beauty from a small Mid-western town steps off the train (or the bus, or the plane), into the bright Los Angeles sunshine and gazes longingly at the Hollywood sign. She pluckily picks up her one suitcase and jauntily hails a taxi. “Hollywood. I’m going to Hollywood to become a star!” she tells the driver.
Cut to our fresh-faced beauty going to her first audition. She knows she’s perfect for the role. She confidently enters the room and then sees…hundreds, maybe thousands of girls who are exactly like her. All fresh-faced beauties. All stars in their hometowns. All coming to Hollywood to fulfill their dreams.
At this point, the story can go one of two ways. The hopeful version is that our young starlet really does have something special, she works very hard and becomes a star like Candice Glover who won American Idol after getting rejected the two previous times she auditioned.
The cynical version is that she gets involved with the wrong crowd, spirals downward and ends up in a ditch somewhere like the Black Dahlia – which is one of oldest unsolved murder cases in Los Angeles history.
Now, how does this relate to applying to college? Well, guess what – you are the fresh-faced beauty gazing longingly at that dream college campus. And you are competing against thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of students who are just like you!
How do you make yourself stand out so that your application doesn’t end up in a ditch somewhere? The easy answer, and what most people point to is the writing – your personal statements and supplemental essays. But it does deeper than that. You can be a brilliant writer and still write horrible essays, because if you don’t have anything to say, it doesn’t matter how you say it.
The answer is to start with you. Who are you? What makes you tick? What are you passionate about? What do you dream about doing and becoming? What are your weird and funny habits that your family teases you about? What activities do you love? How do you spend your time outside of school? How do you give back?
Every single person has amazing qualities and a unique story to tell. Your goal in the college application process is to discover those qualities so you can tell your unique story through your personal statement and supplemental essays. That is the way to get “discovered” and become a star at your dream college.
Written by: Chelsea Watkins