Take this pill and lose weight while you sleep!
It’s easy to be seduced by the promise of a shortcut. The best way to lose weight isn’t easy, but it’s not complicated, either. Eating right, cutting out the cookies, and going to the gym every day means developing habits and repeating them over and over again. It’s the search for the shortcut that makes it more complicated.
Lots of people look for shortcuts in college admissions—one activity, one essay topic, the one alumni recommendation or pay-to-play program or choice of major that will guarantee admission to their dream school.
But like the search for the mythical weight-loss pill, the search for the shortcut just leads to frustration. Becoming a competitive college applicant means developing good habits.
Take challenging courses. Work hard. Commit yourself to activities you care about. Find the right colleges, regardless of prestige. Present yourself clearly and honestly in the applications. These steps won’t necessarily guarantee admission to one particular school any more than doing the hard work to lose weight will guarantee that you’ll win a triathlon. But if you turn them into habits, there will be plenty of colleges waiting to reward you.
If there were shortcuts that actually worked, someone would have found and profited from them already. Take that energy you’re spending searching for the easy way and redirect it into good habits. The habits work much better than the shortcuts do.