Congratulations to our Veritas Early Admits! Good luck at Harvard, Brown, Penn, and Cal Tech, among other schools! Check out the full list here…
Discipline is an often misunderstood concept. (Though this may surprise you, at no other time in my life did I see discipline misrepresented more than during my four years at Harvard.) Often met with a groan from teenagers and adults alike, discipline tends to signify work, effort, and overall unhappiness. Discipline, however, can also mean fun and relaxation if carried out correctly. For instance, consider the following example of a hard-working yet undisciplined student:
Our student sits down to work on a term paper that she knows should require between two and three hours of focused effort. Rather than focusing on the task at hand, she grasps at anything to distract herself: chatting online with friends, browsing the web, even cleaning her room. While this multitasking might yield a robust Facebook profile and a cleaner room, it also extends her writing time to five hours instead of three.
Furthermore, this tendency to multitask afflicts our well-intentioned scholar even when she’s not working. Just as her leisure infringed upon her work, her work always seems to creep into mind during ordinary times of relaxation and fun. As a result, she is in a constant state of worry about the work looming overhead.
“The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.” -Stephen King
College applications are an opportunity to take honest stock of yourself, to reflect honestly on what you have done as an indicator of what you will do. This book will help you do exactly that—but first, you have to agree to help yourself. And the best way to do that is to make a concerted effort to write something every day. Even if it’s a fifteen-minute free write, you need to keep your words flowing.
If your digestive organs process the energy and waste from the food you consume and your lungs do the same with air, then the same can be said with respect to how you brain processes the language of life. Not only will abundant writing help you get into college, it will also prove an outlet for any stresses, ideas, or burdens you accumulate during your daily life. Perhaps the habit will even extend beyond these few months into the rest of your life.
Socrates once said, “Know thyself and thy high school guidance counselor” (note: this is not an exact quote). The point is: though your guidance counselor will see your transcript, brag sheet, and other details, they will not know much more about you than what you choose to share in private conversation. So we suggest getting to know your counselor and vice versa. The best way to make that happen is with honest to goodness conversation about your life.
If you are a ninth grader, you should start visiting your guidance/college counselor now. One meeting each semester should suffice to begin developing a relationship. If you are a tenth grader, you ought to pick up the pace with three to four visits a year. An eleventh grader? No less than four visits per year. If you are a senior and you still can’t recognize your counselor in the hallway, then you’ve got your work cut out for you and should meet no less than three times this fall.
In short, your counselor is there to help you, but you must take the initiative to make it happen. Get started early and sustain the effort. It will pay off.
The Veritas Solution: Though discipline and delayed gratification are proven strategies for success, the degree to which Janet sacrificed her present well-being for future payoffs was unsustainable. A candid discussion of her life goals revealed little sign of change on the horizon of college, graduate school, and employment. As Janet began to revise her personal essay in accord with the context of college admissions, she began to understand that the flaws of her narrative were not a result of unclear writing but unclear living.
With each revision, Janet began to realize that her current trajectory did not account for gratification until the year 2025. With help, she came to understand college life involved activities in the classroom, concert hall, and dormitory alike. With a theme of balanced and sustainable living in mind, Janet recast her essay with a more appealing tone.
By April, Janet had been admitted to Princeton, one of her top choice schools, and was eager to take the next step in life. During a school trip to Europe, Janet also had the opportunity to reflect on her own lifestyle. Here is what she wrote in an email to her Veritas Admissions advisor upon her return:
I made a “life discovery” while I was in France. I realized that I’ve been so future oriented for the past couple years that I forgot how to appreciate the present. The American Dream is great in that people can rise up to greatness with hard work and dedication, but it can also blind them. The French live so much more tastefully than we do - they take time to enjoy food, family, friends, etc. No matter where I was, I constantly heard three phrases: t’inquiete (don’t worry), c’est la vie (that’s life) and c’est pas grave (it’s not that big of a deal). I think that says a good deal about their attitude towards life. This discovery also reminded me of you and what you were trying to help me to understand while writing my essay… I think I was stubborn because even though my head knew, my heart refused to accept it.
Thank you, once again!
Beyond merely getting in, the Veritas approach deliberately focuses on getting into one’s self. In Janet’s case, joyful experiences and relationships had remained secondary life goals. By exploring the narrative of her life past and present, Janet and her Veritas Admissions advisor were able to revise that story for success in college and beyond. Now Janet is actively incorporating this sustainable approach into her everyday life.