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Go beyond yourself and your numbers

Colleges know that students are “more than their numbers,” whether those are high or low.

One great takeaway from the Character Collaborative Conference is this:

There is more than one way to think about “character.”


Even Angela Duckworth, who popularized the term “grit” in her essay and TED talk in 2013, recognizes that grit has been taken out of context. It is not about stoicism, success at all costs in the form of grades and test scores, winning at all costs on the sports field, racking up activities you’re not invested in, or cutthroat competitiveness.

So what is it?

Think of grit in two ways:

Academic Character: perseverance, curiosity, engagement, and a passion for ideas. However, grit can be morally or immorally motivated. Cheating in any way or putting yourself above others to get higher grades or achieve in the world is not grit. That's why ethical character is the most important.

Ethical Character: showing respect in interpersonal relationships and towards society. Do you care about people who are different than you? Do you care about a more just world?

So think of grit as a goal to strive for throughout high school. You may need to separate yourself from the group, but not entirely. Discover and explore your interests deeply by thinking beyond the easiest and most obvious. Recognize all you have and understand that you are an anomaly in society. What do you care about and what can you do? It’s not easy...that’s where grit comes in.


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