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Tutor: Don’t Quit—Suffer Now
...and live the rest of your life as a champion
Summertime rolls, and the tide of a new academic year washes over all those lovely locales in the Northern hemisphere where students enjoy school-free summers. By early September, the wave will overtake us all, welcome news, no doubt, for subject tutors ready for work. Those of us toiling in the college admissions test prep mines find summer to be the most demanding season, even as students during this season are as sunny as they come.
Of course, even the most willing learners hit a wall now and then, especially when the dog days have ended. One of my hardest workers has been toiling towards a 99th percentile SAT score since June, but finds himself pulled in too many directions now that school and golf seasons have both begun. When we met last week, I laid out a plan for multiple practice tests leading up to what should be a triumphant August SAT. My student, in response, tried to negotiate downwards. One more test, he thought, was enough.
“Have you,” I asked, “turned out a test yet that represented your best ability?”
“Have you,” I continued, “reached that point where you feel you’ve reached your pinnacle?”
“How about,” I offered, “you commit to two tests and review sessions to maximize your chances of going one and done in August?”
Obviously, even unassailable logic couldn’t compete with the fatigue of pursuing a long-term goal giving way to the nagging urgency of more immediate and enjoyable interests. Luckily, I had another gambit to win the round…
“Listen, I know how you’re feeling, but you’re so close to the finish. Don’t listen to me. Listen to Muhammad Ali, who said, ‘Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’ Years from now, you won’t remember the first days of school or the earliest matches of your golf season. You know what you’ll remember? Your SAT score, whether you reach that target you’ve been digging for or not. Do everything you can in the next two weeks to live the rest of your life as a champion.”
That one got him. He even gave me props for quoting Ali. We’ll see if he follows through with the two tests he promised me, but at least he understood the stakes of his decisions.
All of our students hit that wall, especially the truly engaged and ambitious ones. Every day brings a new calculus of academic, extracurricular, social, and self-care priorities. Obviously, as educators, we must respect the big picture and support smart choices about where to allocate time.
But we also, as coaches, also need to recognize when crunch time arrives and why staying the course of serious study is the most sane and responsible decision, the one informed by major goals instead of minor obstacles. Employ ethos, pathos, logos, and whatever else might work to exhort your students to cover those final steps of the academic marathon they’ve been running rather than collapse mere feet from the finish line. Leave it all on the field, as they say, and you can be proud of whatever grade or score or result you earn.
This advice doesn’t just apply to students now, does it? If you’re grinding through one of your busiest seasons of the year, you may feel ready to throw in the towel yourself. When you’re feeling weak, don’t listen to your fatigue or doubt; listen instead to someone who, through talent, integrity, and indomitable will, is memorialized simply as The Greatest.
Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.
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…And what amazing product sponsored this week's newsletter?
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