Student of color holds a sign that reads ”The freedom to learn is the freedom to live.”

The journey through the college application process is a daunting one, marked by academic stress, extracurricular activities, and countless hours of preparation. Moreover, for many students of color, this path is further complicated by a predominantly white education system that can feel designed to work against them.

Start with Self-Reflection

What helped me on this path? Self-reflection. I discovered the importance of finding and writing about my own truth. Furthermore, I resisted comparing myself to statistics, which can be discouraging to students from underrepresented backgrounds. But most important to the application process was having the self-confidence to overcome these challenges.

Within a system that may not always reflect your experiences and perspectives, it can be intimidating to share your authentic self. However, finding and writing about your truth is a powerful tool in your application. That is, your uniqueness can set you apart and demonstrate the value of diversity to your potential university.

So, how do you write about your truth effectively? Start by reflecting on your own experiences, perspectives, and challenges.

Know Your Worth

While writing my application essays, I asked myself: What are the defining moments that have shaped who I am? How do they shape the bigger picture of who I want to be? 

Whether they are obstacles you’ve overcome, cultural experiences that have enriched your life, or personal growth stories, these moments contribute to a unique narrative that you can share. Remember diversity is a strength—not a weakness—and your story matters.

In a world that constantly bombards you with statistics and comparisons, it’s essential to resist measuring your worth against others. College admissions can feel like a race where you’re expected to compete with students who seem to have more advantages than you.

Put simply, it’s important to remember your journey is entirely your own. Who you are as a person is just as important and telling about your capabilities as any test score or grade point average. Instead of fixating on comparisons, focus on the growth you’ve achieved throughout your academic career. Showcase your determination, resilience, and adaptability. Share how you’ve contributed to your community and how you plan to continue doing so in college. It’s the unique qualities you possess that will make you a valuable addition to any campus.

Embrace and Show Who You Are

Confidence will build your college application. Confidence in your story, your abilities, and your potential to make a difference. While it’s natural to have doubts and feel skeptical, remember that self-assuredness can propel you forward. Confidence allows you to share your experiences authentically and persuasively, which will help admissions committees see your value. Confidence also involves seeking support when you need it.

Talk to your mentors, teachers, friends, and anyone else you trust will provide encouragement and guidance in planning your own future. By fostering a strong support network, you can navigate the challenges of the college admissions process with renewed self-assurance.

As a person of color, the college admissions process can be a trying experience. Yet it is essential to recognize the power of your truth, the danger of comparisons, and the significance of confidence. Your journey is a unique one, filled with experiences that only you can bring to the table.

By embracing your truth, refusing to compare yourself to discouraging statistics, and walking the path with confidence, you can assert your worth and change the narrative surrounding diversity in higher education.

Your presence enriches the educational landscape and your story is a beacon of hope for those who follow in your footsteps.

Cameron Grant is a senior in the College of Arts and Science majoring in Politics (pre-law) and minoring in Public Policy and Management. On campus, he can often be found hanging out in the Kimmel, giving tours as an admissions ambassador, organizing rallies in Washington Square Park, or advocating for those most vulnerable to corruption. When he isn’t on campus, he loves to do martial arts, go to museums, check out concerts, and explore the city with friends! He is in over 10 clubs at NYU and always looking to meet new people.