Colleges value service and philanthropy, particularly when students expand beyond school and religious-based activities and create a unique role for themselves. Volunteering for a worthy cause is a good start, but don’t stop there. Use it as a springboard for developing your child’s unique talents, interests, and vision.
That’s exactly what Peter did. As you’ll see, his story illustrates an incredible burst in confidence by a young person who began with no idea of what he was capable of and ended up surpassing his wildest expectations.
Peter from Berkeley, California
Sparks: Love of art, creative, inspired
Igniting Fire: Unique service
When we started working with Peter, he expressed few interests except for drawing and designing models in his backyard. His parents were anxious about his lack of focus at school, and so we began working with Peter to explore ways that he could use his sparks to help others. By chance, Peter’s father had contacts with a charitable NGO that built homes in Guatemala.
Peter applied for a work visa while in 10th grade and spent the next summer in Guatemala learning how the homes were designed and built. When he returned home, he spent the school year applying his passion to learning blueprint design. The following summer, he was able to implement the plans that he’d created, and he watched his designs become homes for needy Guatemalans. As a result, Peter gained great confidence and satisfaction, and won entrance into Washington University’s premiere architectural program.
Discovered Brand: Architect
As the word ‘creativity’ suggests, there are countless ways your student can develop imaginative talent. Admissions boards are always won over by creativity, particularly when students apply their unique talents to fill needs and niches in new and original ways. Time and again, the students we’ve worked with have channeled the most unusual ideas into impressive accomplishments, as George managed to do.
Here’s his story:
George from Sacramento, CA
Sparks: Lyrical talent, love of music
Igniting Fire: Unique creativity
George, a junior from Sacramento, came to us with a great deal of uncertainty over what talents or skills he could possibly offer a university. A creative spirit, he loathed the idea of competition. As a result, he wasn’t interested in extracurriculars, and in fact, had few interests beyond hip hop music. Instead of forcing him into fields he wasn’t interested in, we encouraged George to pursue his passion for hip hop in new and creative ways.
His sophomore year, while studying for the SATs, he noted how many of his fellow students struggled with pre-calculus. So the following summer, he wrote, recorded, and using his home equipment, produced hip hop songs that taught fundamentals of calculus in a way that his fellow students could relate to. His efforts won recognition at his school and became an online sensation popular with schools across the country.
Discovered Brand: Music Producer
Using your child’s deep ambitions, explore which unique paths feel right for igniting your student’s sparks. Let your imagination take over. Don’t worry if the idea seems daunting or unrealistic. In fact, the path requires leaving comfort zones and risking failure, but the payoffs for doing so, even the lessons of failure, are well worth the effort.
By taking small steps and working with a plan, momentum will build on itself. Let our examples remind you that anything is possible, and that the anxiety of starting something new quickly turns to the thrill of discovery. Igniting fire just takes the first step.
Exercise: Igniting the Sparks
We hope you enjoyed this free snippet from David Montesano’s book ”4 Steps to the College of Your Dreams”. We just wrapped up Part 4, next time we start Part 5 – Building Fire: Transformative Experience.