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A Common Theme Among High School Students: “I Am Not Good Enough.”

A Common Theme Among High School Students: “I am not good enough.”

Jill Diaz
University of Colorado-Boulder

I am in the midst of my 10th travel season in college admission. I don’t even come close to some of the veteran recruiters we have in this organization, but WOW, where does 10 years go? I have to admit, my heart has grown a little weary in recent years as I have observed students becoming more competitive than ever and therefore more stressed than ever.

I made a pact to myself that while, yes I was going to be recruiting for my University this fall, I also wanted to make it a point to ease student anxiety in any way I can. To aid with this, I have been having students in my high school visits answer a simple question for me on the back of their contact cards.

“What is the one thing that is most concerning/stressful for you right now in the college application/admission process? Answer in one word or sentence.”

My hope for this exercise has been to simply gather information on what kids are stressing about the most and then address it if I can within my presentation. I have met with over a 100 students thus far the last few weeks who have answered this question for me, and the common theme is: “I am not good enough.”

My test scores won’t be high enough to get into a good school.

That my essay won’t be good enough to stand out.

That nothing about me is going to stand out against other applicants.

That I am going to disappoint my parents.

This is not surprising, but the overwhelming truth is heart breaking. Ironically, I have noticed that the higher achieving students have even more intense worry about not being good enough. This is a deep issue that has a lot of contributing factors in which we could all talk about for hours, no doubt. But I really just want to leave you readers with a challenge.  I know we are in the thick of the fall and things are getting crazy. You might be exhausted and overwhelmed, I know I am already. Despite that, I challenge you to remember that it is VERY likely that a student you are talking to is feeling inadequate, perhaps in more ways than one. Make it a point to lift them up, to ease their worry, and be encouraging and kind. These kids need it now more than ever. Don’t we all?

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