Keeping score has its place. Basketball games would be pretty confusing if nobody on the court or in the stands knew how many points were on the board. But too many students and their parents inject way too much scorekeeping into college admissions, often about all the wrong things.
They’ll measure and track every exam, graded paper, and standardized test, but forget to measure if the student is actually learning something.
They’ll keep a mental log of every perceived missed opportunity, every AP class they didn’t get or starting position they weren’t given or election they didn’t win, but take no reward in the effort that went into pursuing those things or the learning that followed.
They’ll track the competition, who got what score or what award or what notice of admission to which prestigious college, but forget to take the time to consider their own journey and whether or not their path is a healthy and rewarding one for them.
They’ll rack up items for the resume but forget about the value of time spent doing something the student enjoys.
And most troublingly, they’ll turn a student’s time in high school and preparation for college into an unending stream of performance measurement—grades, scores, accolades, etc.—at the expense of the student’s health and happiness.
Nobody does this because they set out to make themselves or their kids miserable. Scorekeeping like this is pervasive in many communities and schools because of the obsession with prestigious colleges and the belief that satisfying a magic formula can open the doors of admission.
If you’re keeping score, it’s worth considering:
- Is the score something you can control or even influence?
- Can you change the outcome once the score is final?
- Does the score carry long-term consequences that will affect you 2 or 5 or 20 years from now?
- Will the quest to score well make you or others around you smarter, healthier, or happier?
- Are you focusing on the life, opportunities, and people around you no matter how or where you’re scoring?
If you answer no to those questions, it might be time to keep a different score.