Student Insights: Andrea Bossi, Harvard University ’21

Risk and Reward: Pushing Yourself Beyond Your Bounds In The College Application Process

You never know what will happen in life, but senior year, this reality is amplified to a level that’s unconceivable until the school year is over. You will be challenged and also rewarded; you will endure a slurry of emotions, experiences, and still more. Most importantly, you will grow, morphing more and more into the real you. Throughout senior year, a primary focus – among others like getting into college and graduating from high school – should be growing as much as possible before entering your next stage of life.


There is no recipe for your growth, no set of tasks to complete; you simply need to push yourself relentlessly. Push yourself to face your fears and confront irrational discomfort, for in this zone beyond your comfort zone, you can flourish. This is your growth zone.

Ask yourself often, “what’s the worst that could happen?”

As a senior, I wasn’t pushed to apply to top schools, and I didn’t think I would get in. Nonetheless, facing the Common Application while pondering my chances and thinking about basketball advice, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”, I decided to take a risk: to start the application, to write my best essay, to press submit. Even though I didn’t believe in myself, it was the action that mattered the most, the fact that I took a safe risk.

Push yourself to face your fears and confront irrational discomfort.

For example, I joined cross country my junior year of high school even though I wanted to run since freshman year. Yet all that time, I was afraid I’d be too slow and too fat. Nonetheless, it was so fun and impactful to my high school experience. It is important to note that the risks I am suggesting you take are all safe; they do not involve pushing yourself to do things unsafe, which includes overusing your body to reach a fitness goal, starving or stuffing yourself to reach a weight goal, using alcohol or substances to reach a social goal, or anything else.

I promise that this advice, though broad, is effective. You’re approaching adulthood, where nobody will push you to grow and improve like they do now because you’ll be wholly responsible for yourself. In college, I am not helped unless I ask, unless I make an effort to find opportunities to better myself, whether in the class or personally. Start now; start making yourself sprout into the better you, who has more fearlessness, who intentionally chases challenges rather than shying away. Hereafter, remember something that a beautiful and wise woman told me: failure is not fatal, and success is not final.

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