My younger brother is a Harvard grad who also rowed for Harvard’s legendary men’s crew coach, Harry Parker. As my brother pointed out on his blog today, during Harry’s 53 years as a coach at Harvard, he’s had 21 undefeated regular seasons, eight official national championships and eight more unofficial national championships. He also has a record of 43-7 in the Harvard-Yale race, the oldest collegiate sporting event in the US.
Here’s what Harry says about his role as a coach:
I do is help nurture traits that are already within the rowers. They
come here, they’re highly motivated, clearly they’re competitive,
they’re smart. And then what I do consciously or unconsciously is create an
environment that fosters or strengthens those traits. You have to work
hard. You have to be responsible. You have to be accountable. You
have to have a lot of perseverance. You have to deal with a lot of
I think that's a great summary of what a highly selective and prestigious school like Harvard does for students.
Schools like Harvard take students who already have the traits to be successful and give them an opportunity to foster and strengthen those traits. But students have to work hard. They have to be responsible. They have to be accountable. They'll need a lot of perseverance. And they'll deal with a lot of frustration.
It's not always easy or fun. But their willingness to do it is what will make them successful, not the name of the school on their degree.
Start developing those traits now–hard work, responsibility, accountability, perseverence, and the ability to handle frustration. Then bring your traits with you to college and work with your school to foster and nurture them.