Focus on a change

Seniors, as you begin the college application process, here’s a tip to help you choose and present compelling experiences, involvements, and accomplishments—focus on a change that took place.

Change usually makes for a good read, a before-and-after story of transformation in which change is the crucial ingredient.

What inspired the change that turned you from an average to a top student?

What changed that made your uncomfortable new school feel like home?

What changed that made you finally try choir, or leave the after-school couch for an after-school job, or decide you were in fact good at math and science?

Focusing on the change itself often reveals a person who inspired you, an insight you had about yourself, or a discovery that led to action. And those are often the hidden gems that aren’t revealed just by listing an activity or accomplishment on an application.

Don’t inject deep meaning or learning that wasn’t there. That’s why there are so many “I learned that if I put my mind to it, I can accomplish anything” essays.

But if a person, event, viewpoint, circumstance, etc. caused you to make a small or a big change, whatever inspired the transformation is often a subject worth relating and even explaining.

Some changes are made arbitrarily when you wake up and just decide to try something different. But many more are not. So if there is a story behind the change, consider sharing it.

Where you were before and where you are today can be interesting in their own right. But almost never as much so as the change that turned the before of yesterday into the after of today.