One of the surest ways to inject stress and uncertainty into the college admissions process is to fixate too much on things you can’t control, like outcomes. Will your dream college say yes? Will you break 2000 on the SAT? Will you be named MVP, lead in the school play or shift manager at your part-time job?
You can and should do everything you can to influence those outcomes. But control is a different story. And one of the most powerful tools of influence you have, and one which is entirely in your control, is your effort.
In his book, Mark Cuban, self-made billionaire and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, describes the role of effort in his own success:
“In sports, the only thing a player can truly control is effort. The same applies to business. The only thing any entrepreneur, salesperson or anyone in any position can control is their effort… And finally, I had to make sure I wasn’t lying to myself about how hard I was working. It would have been easy to judge effort by how many hours a day passed while I was at work. That’s the worst way to measure effort.”
That’s good advice for any age, no matter what your definition of success is.
If you want to have a more successful, less stressful college admissions journey, relentlessly focus on those things that are in your control, like effort. And parents, reinforce this by acknowledging your student’s effort rather than the outcomes alone.