‘Major’ problem: How can my daughter get into college if she doesn’t have a speciality?

for The Brooklyn Paper
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My daughter clicked the submit button on her last college application and a wave of nausea swept over me. I had a sinking feeling I had failed her miserably. I’m sure she’ll get in to some school and have a wonderful experience, but I can’t escape the realization that she isn’t as competitive a candidate as some of her peers because I wasted her childhood, allowing her to get to this point in life without a specialty.

All the most successful kids seem to have their thing – a sport, an academic subject, writing awards, professional acting or dance, their own charitable organization, anything they can excel at that sets them apart from the field. The sidewalks of childhood are littered with materials from the multitude of organizations out there ready to help ambitious parents shepherd their child along.

I could have sent my girl to science or sports camps where she would have worked with giants in some field. She could have attended summer school or on-line courses and had a year of college credit before she started her first application. I could have pushed her into an obscure sport such as cricket or curling every vacation and all summer, clearly making her stand out from her classmates.