College Corner: How To Write An Authentic Narrative for College Applications, Part 2

“It takes a village to raise a child.” As a network, it is important for us to be informed about the college application process as we encounter students who need guidance or mentorship. In honor of ensuring our village is prepared to help any student feel confident enough to apply to competitive colleges and universities, it is important that we guide them through writing the much-dreaded college essays. While there are different prompts students will need to respond to, they should remain true to themselves in sharing their authentic stories by highlighting three important topics in their essays:  their academic character, their Impact and Initiative and their future contributions to the greater world. 

In today’s college corner, I want to elaborate on the second most important topic students should touch upon when writing their college essays:

2.     Impact and Initiative

First, let’s begin with impact. While academics are an important part of a student’s story, being in high school comes with many opportunities to get involved in other activities. Whether it’s being on a sports team and leading the school to a championship or being in a club and fostering student engagement, students should show that they utilized these opportunities. These activities give students more opportunities to express who they are outside of the classroom. Many students have come to me and shared they are not a part of any extra-curricular activities and are afraid this will make them look bad when applying, but they often forget to share that their lack of involvement was because they were responsible for babysitting their younger siblings and had little free time for after school activities. Family responsibilities ARE a part of a student’s impact. While some of us may have normalized having chores and needing to look after siblings, this is not the norm across the line. While some students may be able to discuss their involvement with numerous sports and activities because they had the access and time to do so, a student with family responsibilities or work will have equal weight when it comes to impact. Students need to share this information rather than assume all students have the same responsibilities and forget to mention it in their essays.  

Additionally, it is important for students to highlight their initiative. There are students who are naturally proactive and often do things without realizing the initiative they are demonstrating. I recently had a conversation with a student who shared his story with me and his fear of not being up to par with some of his classmates because he had moved to Mexico with his family in elementary school and came back to the US in high school. The more we discussed his story, the more we jotted down examples of his impact and initiative. An important one was his commitment to watching The Discovery Channel as a way to maintain his English language skills. It was the little habits that he had cultivated for himself that made him stand out more than students who may have had it easier. It is important that students think broadly about all the ways they are spending their time out of the classroom, as these daily actions can say a lot about their priorities and character.

What do you think?
The following two tabs change content below.
Alma Renteria

Alma Renteria

Alma-Delia Renteria is a proud product of Lynwood schools. After graduating UC Riverside, with a B.A. in English and a year earlier than anticipated, she decided to commit her “gap year” to City Year. After City Year Los Angeles, Alma went on to purse a teaching career with Teach For America Los Angeles. Upon joining TFA, Alma began her education career as a middle school teacher. It was while teaching that she realized the need to do her part to help serve the community she grew up in and decided to run for office, getting elected to the Lynwood School Board at only 23 years old. Alma completed her first Master’s degree in Urban Education at Loyola Marymount University and a 2nd Masters in Educational Leadership along with her Admin Credential at Concordia University. She was appointed by the Speaker to the Instructional Quality Commission and re-elected to the Lynwood School Board in 2018. She currently serves as the Principal at a local elementary school in Pico Rivera, where she hopes to demonstrate that magic is possible when thee right people are given opportunities to lead.

More Comments