If I had a superpower, I would want it to be nostalgia. I would want to remember all of the moments of my childhood and motherhood that shaped me and the people around me. If I could, I would want to be able to be nostalgic even for complete strangers, like high school students who just finished junior year.
Nostalgia is one of the most influential tools I use when I am helping a student find an essay topic that they could write about for their college applications. Students are often focused on the big events, big achievements, or even big failures of their life when I am much more focused on the smaller ones and what they say about them.
As this challenging school year comes to a close and summer arrives with eager arms, I encourage students who are staring down the college application process to take some time to reflect on those small moments of their lives. Small moments turn into special essay topics. And special essay topics translate into moving essays that reflect a more self-aware YOU.
1. What piece of your background, upbringing, culture, or childhood is a touchstone for who you are today?
2. Was there a time you now can look back on and recognize that you saw something, heard something, or acted in a way that surprised, shaped, or impacted you?
3. Apart from family vacations, nightly dinners, yearly holidays, or achievements, what are your favorite memories thus far?
4. Is there an object, value, or characteristic of yourself that you hold dear?
5. What moment in your life forced you or someone else to pivot and what did you learn about yourself?