A Season of Gratitude for College Applicants

As the new year is upon us and the days are incrementally longer, I’m grateful the winter solstice has passed and…for Regents Earth Science.

At this time of year, I’m thankful for my earth science teacher, for the pleasures of plotting the daily motion of the sun across the sky (grease pencils and plastic hemispheres in the high school parking lot), and for the pride he instilled in our great planet and its tilted axis—without which there’d be no seasons!

As you return to school and continue to plot your path from high school to college, what are you grateful for? Consider asking yourself whether a teacher or member of your school community has--

  • Advocated for you

  • Imparted good advice

  • Influenced your educational trajectory

  • Inspired your interests

  • Prepared you in some way for life beyond high school

If so, now is the time to say thank you. Why?

The benefits of expressing gratitude are well established. Gratitude can enhance empathy, improve physical and mental health and even help you get better sleep. But the very exercise of identifying an individual who has contributed to your educational priorities or values also will help bring into focus what matters and is important to you. Cultivating gratitude therefore has its own intrinsic rewards and can help foster a strong sense of self that will result in greater equanimity along the path from high school to college. 

Some of you have just put the finishing touches on applications or are awaiting decisions from various colleges. Now is a perfect time to write a note of thanks to a teacher or counselor who has supported you through the application process. Don’t wait—your gratitude is not outcome dependent! And while you’re at it, consider expressing gratitude to family members who’ve facilitated visits to colleges near and far, familiarized themselves with application components, or financed various aspects of the college search and application process.

The benefits of gratitude can prove a surprisingly effective antidote to aspects of the admission process that otherwise tend to erode self-esteem. The sooner you cultivate gratitude, the better you’ll feel and the better able you are to spot new opportunities to express appreciation.

January 2018 promises to be a banner month for an earth science enthusiast—with a first full moon on January 1st and a second full moon on January 31st (a Blue Moon). In between now and then I intend to thank my earth science teacher for a lifetime interest in the earth-sky-related phenomena. Who will you thank? We look forward to hearing from you!