The failure narrative is a common motif in college essay prompts, and it is one that you need to be mindful of as you go about your high school lives making all types of beautiful mistakes along the way. During admissions season, I always send the New York Times article "What if the secret to success is failure?" to seniors brainstorming their essay topics. It is a must-read for anyone struggling with that part of the admissions application.
In the failure narrative, you are asked to tell about a time that didn't go as planned and tell what you learned about that experience, particularly how it changed your life moving forward. Each and every year we know it is coming, and each and every year students are stumped and frustrated about their response to this particular question. Just in case you're thinking it, this is not the time to write about sports. Yes, we athletes have experienced a great deal of adversity in our respective arenas. Yes, we are passionate about those things that we do, but this is not the time to write about them. (So, start thinking about alternatives early on!)
I get it. No one likes to talk about a time they were bad at something or made a huge mistake, whether or not you experienced growth as a consequence. That is why I love this article. It helps us connect the idea of "failure" to success, as an inextricable first step. Read it, especially if you're in a writer's rut on that particular essay prompt. I promise it will help you understand the "why" behind the question and help you demonstrate how an unplanned event led to your cultivation of a growth mindset, which is exactly what college admissions personnel are looking for.