The Downfall of the Potentially Great

Jason Lam
2 min readJun 6, 2021
Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

Taking the result for granted. Thinking that the result inherent. That it’s innate. That just because you’ve always received praise that somehow your greatest ambition is guaranteed just for being you.

In a word: hubris.

After working with a multitude of students apply to college and witnessing who gains admission into the most selective colleges such as Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Duke, and more, the difference between those who make it in and those who don’t is really leaving nothing to chance.

It’s being demanding of themselves and others who help them to squeeze every bit of quality out of their potential application.

Of the students who could have achieved a more competitive result and those who don’t, the ones who don’t remain ignorant of how much it actually takes to spring the marathon that is applying to college.

The students who do better are the ones who are relentless in asking how they can do better. Because only by asking how you can do better is how you ultimately reach becoming the best.

It is truly a relentless pursuit.

And the individuals who don’t end up becoming the best?

They think it’s a given.

They think that the achievement will just happen on its own and that they won’t have to be obsessive about perfection.

While you shouldn’t pursue perfection at the outset, because if you do so you may never get started, it should be the end destination once you finally start.

Apply to college is a skill. And if you’re seeking to bank all of your greatest ambitions as it relates to college admissions on your first year learning and practicing this skill, you might get lucky. But you also might not. For anyone else who truly wants the result, they will want to minimize the need for luck.

Instead, they will want to maximize merit and ability. And for those who are truly wise about what it takes to become the best, they will seek out and take every advantage possible, even if that advantage is the help, guidance, wisdom, and experience of others.