Member View: Foster Acceptance in the New Year

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A brand new year, a brand new you?

Across the country, millions of Americans are setting resolutions — vowing to build good habits and break bad ones over the next 12 months.

Hit the gym? Eat right? Unplug? All valid goals, says NACAC member Brennan Barnard.

But for college-bound students, he’d like to add one more to the list.

“In 2018, I am resolving to foster acceptance, and will encourage my students to do the same,” Barnard, who works at The Derryfield School (NH), wrote in a recent column published by The Huffington Post.

“In my role as a college counselor to high school students, I see too many young people on a treadmill of expectation without a clear understanding for what lies ahead, and disconnected to what lies within,” Bernard notes. “They wonder if they are bright enough, talented enough, athletic enough, or simply good enough.”

In 2018, he’s inviting his seniors to focus on the positives, including their high school accomplishments, the things they’ve done to help others, personal qualities they value in themselves, and the tenacity they’ve used to overcome challenges.

Those things speak to a student’s true self, and don’t hinge on gaining admission to any given college or university, Barnard says.

He also plans to encourage his students to ask three adults they trust about their post-high school journey.

“Inevitably you will find that their paths were not linear or free of disappointment,” he notes. “If you can accept that and accept yourself, your year is destined to end with greater courage and confidence.”

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at

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