Know Thyself

The quest for college admissions can be likened to a matchmaking process—seeking a college that resonates with one’s character and abilities, which requires understanding oneself. Oscar Wilde’s poem “Hélas!” provides a template for self-reflection, particularly apt for soon-to-be college applicants.

Although Wilde speaks of love and its loss, college applicants can heed the lesson inherent in his musings on an unfulfilled life, to chart a path with minimal regrets.

In “Hélas!”, Wilde writes:

To drift with every passion till my soul  

Is a stringed lute on which all winds can play,  

Is it for this that I have given away  

Mine ancient wisdom, and austere control?

Mr. Wilde speaks to the longing for a life filled with purpose and passion, a sentiment shared by many college hopefuls who seek the freedom to forge their own paths.

Yet Wilde also expresses regret:

Methinks my life is a twice-written scroll  

Scrawled over on some boyish holiday  

With idle songs for pipe and virelay,  

Which do but mar the secret of the whole.

Students often confront a struggle between fulfilling others’ expectations and their own aspirations. In the pursuit of college admissions, many fear losing understanding of their true selves and life’s purpose.

However, there’s hope in Wilde’s words:

Surely there was a time I might have trod  

The sunlit heights, and from life’s dissonance  

Struck one clear chord to reach the ears of God.

Students all can recall the joy of indulging their interests. Then, in rediscovering their abilities, students can choose colleges where they’ll most likely continue learning more about their inherent purpose.

Wilde concludes with a philosophical, yet urgent question:

“Is that time dead? lo! with a little rod  

I did but touch the honey of romance —  

And must I lose a soul’s inheritance?”

Thus, for college applicants: Must they compromise their true potential for the sake of prosperity? Mr. Wilde cautions against losing one’s “soul’s inheritance”—the unique qualities and aspirations of each individual—on the journey living purposefully and fully.

For more information about how to navigate the complex college admissions process to prepare any student for the challenging global socioeconomic situation, contact us at Creative Marbles Consultancy

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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