“Know Thyself”, Part 1: Self awareness is the key to a great college application and overall success.

Post By: COYD Staff

college application help“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates
“Know thyself.” Plato

It is well-known that many philosophers, respected business writers, social ecologists, and other gurus have stated that self awareness is one of the keys to success. Some say knowing your true self is also the key to happiness, but for today, we are discussing why self awareness is a necessary aspect of college admissions, the application process, and college life.

People often think too narrowly about the admissions process. They think all the evaluating is happening on one side. Students often forget that evaluation happens on both ends. You, as an applicant, are the one deciding which colleges to pursue. Admissions officers know what they want out of a prospective freshmen class, but do you know why you want what you want? A huge part of a succeeding in college admissions is choosing the right college for you, and in order to choose the right college, you have to be self aware. Self-awareness means knowing your strengths and weaknesses, knowing your goals, and remaining true to your values. Being self aware will not only get you into the right college, but it will also contribute to your success in college and after college as well.

In addition, showing that you know who you are in your application shows the admissions officer that you will benefit from an education. When a student is self aware, they know what they know and what they don’t know. The hardest people to educate are people who are ignorant of their ignorance. In addition, when an applicant doesn’t know who he/she is, the student doesn’t usually perform activities that maximize their strengths and skills nor do they participate in activities that they are passionate about. When there isn’t intention and purpose in a student’s action, their performance is usually mediocre without depth or longevity.

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself to see if you are self-aware and are constantly searching for the truth about yourself:

1. Do you know your strengths and weaknesses?

Have you ever met a person that brags about how great of a singer they are, but when they sing, they absolutely suck? It’s like watching the 1st part of American Idol where there are people who audition thinking that they can sing like Mariah Carey, attempt to sing a Mariah Carey song, but sound like a screaming whale? Then when they hear the comments from the judges, they become angry and tell the judges that they believe in themselves and know that they will be discovered soon.

Obviously the examples on American Idol are an extreme version; however, many of us are unaware of our strengths and weaknesses. Knowing your weaknesses and knowing how to compensate for your weakness is actually in itself a big strength.

2. Do you learn from your mistakes? Are you able to take constructive criticism?

Aldous Huxley says, “Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.” When something happens to you, are you able to learn from that experience and have it contribute to your life, persective, and relationships? Or do you repeat the same mistakes over and over and not listen to other people’s constructive criticism? If you are self-aware, you can be confident without being arrogant.

3. Do you see flaws in yourself before you see them in other people?

There’s a bible verse in Luke that says “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye?”

When admissions officer read essays where the applicant talks about other people’s flaws in order to highlight their strengths, this is a big sign of 1) immaturity and 2) lack of self-awareness.

Usually people who do this are not self-aware because all they do is judge people around them, but they forget to evaluate and analyze themselves.

4. Do you think about how your actions affect others?

5. Do you know why you make certain decisions, believe what you believe, participate in certain things?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then you need to work on being more self aware. Next post, we will discuss a few crucial steps to self awareness.


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