The Essential Self and Right Fit


What Do the Essential Self and the Right Fit Have in Common? 

The short answer: Everything.

The long answer is, well, longer than that, but we think it’s worth reading about, thinking about, and considering seriously.

Sociologist Martha Beck proposes that each of us has two selves that form the basis of our operations: a “social self” and an “essential self.” In Finding Your Own North Star, Beck lists the behaviors of these selves: The “social self” is avoidance-based, conforming, imitative, predictable, planned, and hardworking, all skills rewarded quite well in school, whereas the “essential self” is attraction-based, unique, inventive, surprising, spontaneous, and playful. Beck theorized that an individual whose two selves are in agreement is not only going to be much happier but also more successful.

At Compass-U, we happen to agree. If a student can’t begin to define his or her essential self, he or she has a difficult time writing application essays—and what happens when it’s time to choose schools and then a major?

Let’s explore school choice a bit. According to a report published in 2010 by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, one in three students who enroll in college will transfer. Another statistic, posted by the U.S. Department of Education, is that over half of all students who enroll in a four-year institution will take six years to graduate.

Taking the time to make thoughtful, educated decisions during the college selection process translates directly into better outcomes. After all, there are real emotional, social, academic, and financial impacts both to transferring and to taking longer than the traditional four years to earn an undergraduate degree.

Let’s get back to your student’s essential self. We all want our students, our children, to thrive. We want them to be their best, unique, inventive, surprising, spontaneous, playful, successful, hardworking selves. Selecting a college where they can explore these sides of themselves while simultaneously developing strong academic, communication, and time-management skills is the goal.

Publication date: 


There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!

Leave a comment