There are lots of buzzwords in today’s admissions process. But, when it comes to college essays, grit ranks high. What is grit? In this case admissions is not referring to sand and gravel! It’s being mentally tough and courageous.

Many selective colleges believe that students who have grit and resilience are best prepared to handle the stress and pressures of college. These qualities prove to be good indicators of success. University of Pennsylvania Psychology Professor, Angela Duckworth, conducted a study to explore what personal traits were good predictors of success. She discovered that grit is a better predictor of success than IQ. (TED TALK). She defines grit as “sticking with things over the very long term until you master them.” (

Grit often comes from experiencing failure and adversity. Challenges can come in many forms. Some students face health, learning, financial and/or family challenges. The college essay is the place to discuss your mental toughness and courage. A student who can authentically convey a personal story that shows commitment, growth and/or leadership especially in the face of adversity should share his/her experience. Don’t forget to talk about the lesson learned and personal growth from this experience.

With helicopter parenting on the rise, it is increasingly important for colleges to discern which students are ready to independently navigate the demands and challenges of college. Colleges want to know if a student has the necessary skills and maturity to make good decisions when faced with academic and social roadblocks. Students…let them see your grit!









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Grit in College Admissions; It’s Not Sand and Gravel
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