The busy season for aspiring college students is just around the corner. Whether you are preparing your college essays or your graduate school statement of purpose, you are probably realizing the full weight of responsibility that comes with the dream of higher education. Composing a good application is a time-consuming and arduous task – there is no denying it. Students usually feel enormous pressure and anxiety when faced with the application process, but it may also be an opportunity for self-reflection that can bring you much-needed self-confidence and inner feeling of success.

Experiences and Accomplishments

One of the top priorities of any program is to find candidates with diverse experiences and skills that demonstrate their versatility. Filling out application sections like the Activities List for UC schools is your chance to reflect on activities and experiences that contributed to your growth as a person and a future professional. You did not pursue extracurriculars and volunteer activities just to get accepted into college. You dedicated your time, energy, and even money to these activities because they make you happy and fulfilled! Not everyone will choose to volunteer at a homeless shelter or humane society after school over hanging out with friends or going to the movies. When you are brainstorming what afterschool activities you participated in, what kind of hobbies and interests you pursued, make a point of feeling proud of your successes. Whether or not you get into college, reflecting on all the accomplishments you have achieved for your college application should instill a great sense of self-confidence.


College application essays show that the art of writing is mostly about self-reflection. Narrowing down one’s life to such a small selection of experiences is a feat of self-awareness and confidence. Many Ivy League and other prestigious colleges provide essay prompts that provide their applicants with an opportunity to discuss their successes, adversities, and unique experiences they faced. When you brainstorm, think about what your potential classmates can learn from you and what personal experiences can broaden their horizons. Not everyone in your class will have experienced immigration or war, not everyone will know what it’s like to go to a boarding school, few get to represent their country in international sports events, and not everyone will know the hardships of growing up in a single-parent household. Your essay can reveal the triumphs and struggles you have faced. Reflecting on the setbacks you experienced and your ability to overcome them truly empowers your sense of self-worth. When you are writing your essays, take time to appreciate what you have been through, including your mistakes and victories over challenges you have faced. Be proud of your journey!

Letters of Reference

Recommendation letters are probably the biggest external vote of confidence you can get as an applicant. Though you may not get to read the letters, good referees will boost your self-confidence by expressing support and excitement to write you a strong letter of reference. You can be certain of the high quality of your letters if the writers discuss your previous successes and appropriate academic qualities. Don’t forget to provide your referees with supporting documents, like your essay draft, resume, and transcripts, to further reinforce their confidence in you. Demonstrating achievements in different areas of your life will impress them even more! When your superiors celebrate your accomplishments and show enthusiasm to write your letters – take the time to appreciate other people’s belief in you and their desire to see you succeed.


Crafting an application requires a great sense of self-reflection. Though getting into college is a wonderful testament to your strengths, you should also regard the application process as an opportunity to enjoy your accomplishments. The application process may be stressful but take this time to appreciate how far you’ve come in your journey. Applications force you to stop and ponder what made you – you. Along with focusing on making a perfect application that represents you, take this opportunity to consider how successful and accomplished you are!