Striving for success
Year after year, class after class, it’s a constant in yearbooks. Across the globe, students are dubbed with the title “Most Likely to Succeed” by their peers. But whatever happened to those whose accomplishments were foreshadowed at such a young age?
Interviewing past Foran alumni allows for a close insight in how the title effects Foran. With the alumni sampled with many prestigious colleges headline such as Cornell and Quinnipiac.
Despite holding the same title at one point, each student and person is different. And with each different person comes different effects of said title. Many consider the superlative a great honor, but with great honor comes overbearing pressure. Kelly Furnas, executive director of the Journalism Education Association at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan., estimates that about 25% of high-school yearbooks still name one or more students “most likely to succeed,” down from about 75% two decades ago. Shaina Arsenault, Class of 15, expressed how the title affected her, “I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself to be successful in what I set my mind to, so I think that receiving that superlative just reinforced that drive for me instead of add to it.” Other recipients such as Val Pozdnyakova, Class of 2014 acknowledge the nomination more as a playful acknowledgement than a serious accolade.
Nearly one-third of those named “most likely” in high school regard it later as a burden. According to a recent poll of 1,369 members of Memory Lane.com, some say the label makes them feel stuck with high-school definitions of success, which invariably involve rising to the top of a profession, making lots of money, or both. But the term “success” leaves much ambiguity. Arsenault gives her advice on chasing success, “Throughout my college career I’ve learned that everyone has their own definition of success, which can be measured in many different ways, and it’s best to focus on what makes you happy and fulfilled rather than comparing yourself to what others consider successful. I have now reached my goal of working in the cruise industry and a large part of what lead me there without getting lost along the way was the commitment I had to my personal vision of success and always following my passion.”
With their definitions of “success” in stone, did they fulfil their yearbook prophecy? Shaina Arsenault feels accomplished in that regard, “I felt very confident and hopeful for the future at the end of my high school career because I had been accepted to my dream college – a goal that I had been working towards for years, as I had wanted to go to Cornell since I was 10 years old. I was both excited and nervous to see what my new goals would be in college and if I would achieve the same level of success.” While Alumni Val while not there yet, feels hopeful for her future, “I have not reached all of my goals yet, such as becoming a physician, which will take a really long time. However I do believe I am on the right track.”
Every student wonders on how to achieve their own success. Luckily the alumni give their own 2 cents for all those looking for advice. “I would say decide what you want and go after it with everything you’ve got! All of your work is a reflection of you, so always put 110% into everything you do. Try to find ways to do things out of the ordinary and go above and beyond, even in situations where you are expected to do just the minimum. Always be prepared, professional, and early.” says Arsenault, who has given it all she’s got to work ethics and landed her into the Ivy Leagues as well as her dream occupation. Along with good academic advice Val reminds us that there are other important factors of success as well, “I would also like to add: don’t forget to take care of yourself!! High school and college are stressful enough, and I promise it only gets harder from there. Anxiety and depression are really common among young people nowadays and it’s easy to get wrapped up in trying to be “successful.” Make sure to check in with yourself, ask yourself why you’re doing whatever you’re doing or why you’re making the decisions you are. Make sure you’re taking care of your mind and body.”