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Leaning Into Your Authentic Self

Finding the right college home is a process. The following comes from an email I sent to a student in recent years. She felt she needed to gain acceptance into a top ranked college because she had worked so hard throughout high school and in her mind getting accepted into a high ranking college would be her “reward”. As many students are narrowing their lists of colleges, I thought it would be helpful to share with a broader audience to offer perspective for parents and students.

I know you have a deep desire to be accepted into a top tier college because you have worked so hard throughout high school, we need to honor that hard work and determination. (Seriously, take time to CELEBRATE!) I also want to make sure your desires are coming from a place of authenticity. Please know, I will support you and am trusting this process will work out. So, here are some questions for you to consider:

Why have you worked so hard throughout high school?

  • Because it was authentic to who you are?

  • To be recognized and rewarded?

  • Only to be accepted into a top tier college or university?

  • To prove something to yourself (or others)?

  • Because it is what was expected of you?

  • Because it was fun? (Like genuinely, you loved learning every step of the way.)

There is no right or wrong answer to the questions above. This is truly just to get your mind focused on the best path for you. (And yes, I mean YOU. Not your parents or your best friend or your peers. We’re talking about you.)

Now let’s shift our perspective for a moment to your core values.

When are you most happy in life?

  • When spending time with your friends? Family?

  • When engaging in interesting discussions within the classroom?

  • When studying until the wee hours in the morning for a test or writing a paper?

  • When researching in a laboratory on a subject that is important to you?

  • When traveling to new places exploring new adventures?

  • When you’re alone thinking about life?

  • When having simple conversations with your friends about life?

What are the things that frustrate you or cause you the most stress/anxiety?

  • School assignments or projects?

  • Relationships?

  • Pressure from friends or parents?

  • Not having enough down time? (This doesn’t include Covid times.)

As you consider your current list of colleges, do they match your core values? Will the campus environments feed your soul, your ego, or your anxiety?

I don’t share all of this to overwhelm you but rather to give you food for thought and to encourage you to pave your own path. Lean into your authentic self.


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