How to get into the top university or movie studio

Cremy B asks: I’m 15, and about to enter high school in Ghana. My dream is to go to Harvard, but I don’t know how to go about it since I’m still here. My dad, however, is adamant on deciding on my career because he says I’m too ‘defensive.’ He is therefore having second thoughts on it. I really need help if I want to make it there. I don’t even have a passport or a visa and over here it’s quite hectic getting them too. What should I do please? Are there any financial services available for me if he approves? And I also want to go to Disneyland one day, and possibly become a Disney star (I can sing very well and can dance too).

Hi Cremy B –

I love your dream!  In fact, I love both of your dreams, and I don’t want to do anything to get in the way of your dreaming!  But I want to change them in one tiny way: I want you to become a bit less focused on Brands.

Here’s the deal.  Harvard is the most competitive school to get into in the United States.  There is absolutely no way to guarantee that anyone would get in there, even if they had incredible success in every aspect of school and life.  The same is true about Disney stars – just because someone is as talented as, say, Miley Cyrus, doesn’t mean they’ll be the next Hannah Montana.  There’s a lot of luck involved.

So I’d like you to shift your dream just slightly, to this:  That you want to get into a top university, perhaps in America, and that you’d like to become a star performer.  If that university happens to be Harvard, and you happen to get a contract with Disney, then that’s fantastic.  But if you got into Yale or Brown, and became a star on the next season of “Glee,” that’d still be all right, wouldn’t it?!!

Okay, having said that, Cremy B, again, I love your dream.  The best thing you have going for you is that you’re coming from Ghana, and the top universities around the world love having a diverse student body, so that’s great.  But you had better be at the very top of the students Ghana is producing when you apply.  So my first recommendation is that you study incredibly hard, and work as hard as you can – not just in school but in extracurricular activities as well.  Make yourself such an attractive student that every college wants you!

I can’t give you any advice about Ghana’s passport program, but I imagine that, if you got into a top foreign university, you’d find it relatively easy to get the documents you need.

All the top schools in the world offer financial aid programs, so that’s not a big problem – but again, it would only be for really exceptional students, so work HARD!

With your dad, I’m not sure what to say.  But again, if you get in, I imagine he’d be so proud of you that he’d joyously let you go.  If not, though, perhaps it would be because he was jealous of your success.  If that is the case, let me know and I’ll give you some suggestions about that.

And with Disney, or other places that hire performing artists… it’s kind of the same deal.  You need to have something really great to offer.  The better you can sing, dance, act, charm, etc., the better.  And the more experience you have, the better too.  So is there a venue near you where you can perform?  A theater or a performing arts school?  Can you learn all sorts of skills there, that would make you more attractive to someone casting?

None of this is easy, Cremy B, and no one can offer any guarantees.  Except this:  Let’s say you work as hard as I’m suggesting, and you don’t get into any overseas universities, or get hired by any big studios.  Do you know what you’d have?  A fantastic education, opportunities to get into the best schools in Ghana, and talents and skills to be able to perform anytime and anywhere and in any way you like, wherever you live.  In other words, all the things I’m suggesting, for you to follow your dreams, would make your life fantastic no matter what.

So go for it, Cremy B!  Aim for the top, and don’t accept anything less than pure excellence from yourself.  And if that takes you to Harvard and Disney, or to anywhere else, I will be so proud of you I’ll bust my collar!



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