Too many high school students rely on other people picking, naming, or electing them to something before they do great work.
You don’t need to get elected to be a leader.
You don’t need to get picked for the AP class to excel in the subject.
You don’t need a position or a spot or any chosen role to contribute and get things done.
You also don’t need a prestigious college to say yes in order for you to be successful. If Penn or Northwestern or Rice says no, there’s not a single reason why you can’t go someplace else to work hard, learn, grow, and propel yourself into a happy and successful life after college.
I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t do anything that involves getting picked (or that you shouldn’t apply to a prestigious college)—if you want to lead the Latin club, play on the volleyball team, or sing in the musical, you’ll need to get picked to do it. Take your best shot and go after what you want.
But don’t wait to get picked to showcase your work ethic, talent, and energy. And if you don’t get picked, don’t shut down. Just find another way to do your best work.
The most successful students (and adults) don’t wait for the right circumstance, connections, or luck to start making an impact. They care too much about their work to put it on hold.
Just get in the habit of doing great work today. In fact, that’s the best way to get picked tomorrow (just ask some Rhodes Scholars).