In the few seconds it took me to write this sentence, hundreds, if not thousands, of high school students will start their own non-profit or begin the paperwork to establish a new club at their school. What has prompted this pro-active parade, you may ask. The simple answer is college. The more complicated one is “leadership.” This single concept has caused many sleepless nights for soft-spoken introverts across the country; however, in this modern-day “Hunger Games,” also known as college admissions, where students desperately look to counselors and independent consultants to reveal to them which weapons they should run for when the time is right, everyone appears to be heading in the same direction. The normal weapons: grades, test scores, extracurricular activities, etc. seem to have lost a bit of their luster, as more and more “gamers” have learned to master these slings and arrows of the traditional arsenal. Affordable test prep and grade inflation have deprived ambitious students of the once lethal advantage they had to slay the college competition with their numerical superiority, so they have invented new ways to show schools like Stanford, Harvard and Duke that they are the leaders of tomorrow. The emergence of independent educational consultants as legitimate players in the college admissions Hunger Games, has served to even the playing field to a certain extent, as these “coaches” know the skills that the wealthier students from District One and Two – to continue with our Hunger Games analogy – have been perfecting their whole lives to pay tribute to the Ivies; however; this knowledge has led far too many kids to try to emulate their more privileged competitors, rather than developing their own unique skills. Everyone wants to show their leadership prowess now rather than grabbing their own “bow and arrow” to demonstrate how they are truly unique. The simple truth is that we can’t all be leaders. The world also needs those determined souls who can contribute to society as tried and true followers. Colleges need those kinds of students as well; so, don’t get caught up in showing how you are just as good as the masses of over-coached applicants. Take the time to focus on how you are different from them. One more AP class or another meaningless club office will not win the day; but, students can make great strides towards a more self-actualized understanding by developing the areas about which they feel truly passionate. Rather than manufacturing ways to demonstrate leadership skills, it is time for students to use the tools they possess to survive and thrive on their own terms. Just like in the movie, the college admissions’ version of the Hunger Gamesis a manufactured reality that doesn’t reflect the real world. Once students recognize that admissions is just a game, it will lose its power to control their lives.