Impress the college education admissions office of your chosen school by becoming an intern or volunteer in the field that you want to enter. This will also allow you to make contacts in the field who can give you a good recommendation to a college. This might even lead to a job.
If you already have knowledge and experience from a job (or internship) in the field that you want to get a degree in, you will, greatly, influence the college education admissions office. Make sure you let the college admissions office know what you learned on the job and how an education would help you go further.
Overcoming a hardship is another “special experience” that can influence a College Education Admissions office. Such experiences may include overcoming a drug addiction, surviving a dysfunctional family, breaking away from a gang, overcoming a physical disability, surviving a bankruptcy– just to name a few.
However, in your essay, telephone conversation or interview with college admissions counselors, do not focus on too many details of the actual hardship. Instead, focus on how you responded to your hardship and how you became a more effective/motivated person.
For example, if you overcame a drug addiction, talk about what you learned about the experience, how you helped others, and what personality traits you developed that would make you successful in school and the career you have chosen to enter.