Are you as smart as you think you are?

A high school senior started a thread on reddit entitled, “I’m not as smart as I thought I was.”  He writes about getting his first B, being disappointed with his SAT score, and coming under a new impression that he’s not the smartest kid in his class, just not as intelligent as he thought he was.

There are almost a thousand replies.  But one in particular comes from an MIT grad who now interviews applicants for admission:


People fail to graduate from MIT because they come in, encounter problems that are harder than anything they've had to do before, and not knowing how to look for help or how to go about wrestling those problems, burn out. The students that are successful look at that challenge, wrestle with feelings of inadequacy and stupidity, and begin to take steps hiking that mountain, knowing that bruised pride is a small price to pay for getting to see the view from the top. They ask for help, they acknowledge their inadequacies. They don't blame their lack of intelligence, they blame their lack of motivation.”

There’s a lot of wisdom in that reply that can be applied before—or after—college.  When something challenges you, acknowledge it.  Accept the fact that you don’t know how to handle it perfectly.  Then start figuring out how to handle it, asking for help when you need it.  That’s where real smarts come from. 

It may seem cliché, but it will be good to keep that advice in mind the next time a challenge shakes your confidence, whether you’re a student struggling with AP chem or a counselor trying to get promoted. 

His entire response is worth a read.  It’s currently the third comment from the top, posted by “Inri137.”