Three Ways To Use Your Mistakes To Your Advantage

“Everybody makes mistakes.” We probably heard that phrase a million times growing up – and everyone knows that it’s true – but there’s something that’s always stuck out to me about this cliché. Everybody makes mistakes, yes, but what happens next is much more variable. Everybody makes mistakes, but not everyone recovers graciously from them. Not everyone learns from them. Everybody makes mistakes, but not everyone uses that opportunity to their advantage – here are three major ways you can.


Learn from your mistake.

Another cliché, I know. But think back to one of your most mortifying, stomach-turning mistake: have you made that mistake again? Probably not, because you learned from it in an incredibly memorable way (for better or worse). Making a big mistake doesn’t feel good, whether it’s at school, at work, or in a relationship. That said, it’s also one of the best learning opportunities you could dream of. It can highlight areas of weakness and show you skills you may need to develop. If the ONLY thing you take from the experience is a lesson, at least take advantage of that.


Use it as a moment to show your character.

One time, a close friend of mine had a momentary brain fade and overlooked something that was important to me. Within moments, she noticed I was quiet and clearly holding back tears. When she asked what was wrong, I didn’t mince my words when I told her what had happened and how I felt. Without missing a beat, this friend began apologizing, validating my feelings, and expressing remorse about the situation. There was not an ounce of defensiveness or a single excuse in sight. Later that night, she checked in on me (again!) and gave me a hug. Not only was I no longer upset at her, I actually liked her even more because I saw firsthand how beautifully and graciously she handled the mistake.

When you make a mistake – regardless of whether it’s in a relationship or in an academic or professional setting – you’ve got a really significant opportunity to show everyone around you how you handle it. Do you blame others? Do you melt down? Do you become apathetic and totally give up? I hope not! Take a moment to breathe through any knee-jerk emotions or irrational reactions. Remember that your response to your mistake can make it so much better or so much worse.


Write your college essay about it.

Our personal favorite way to take advantage of a mistake you’ve made: write your college essay about it!  As we already discussed, mistakes are often the most meaningful and impactful learning opportunities… so, what did you learn from yours? How did it change you as a student, friend, son/daughter, or citizen? How did you handle your mistake? How do you wish you would’ve handled your mistake? What impact has that incident had on your perspective today? When you write your essay about a mistake you’ve made in the past, you have a unique opportunity to write about how well you handle stressful situations and how you use difficulties to grow as a human being. And guess what? College admissions counselors really like students who can do both.

It’s hard to spin your slip-up into a success story. College essays are tricky! That’s why a big focus of our Enrichery College Workshop is coming up with the ideal topic ­– then working together to figure out exactly how you should tell the story. Plus, we’ll finish your supplemental essays and the rest of your application, all before the school year starts. Enrollment for the Enrichery’s College Admissions Workshop is open – grab your spot ASAP!