How to be a High School Superstar: Pt. 1

"What the hell does passion mean?", says Cal Newport, nicely summarizing the thoughts that nag me whenever someone asks me what im passionate about or tells me to follow my passion. I thought I had a rough idea that passion centered around interests, extra curricular activities, and what one does in free time.

In his book, "How to be a high school super star," Newport discusses how to get into one’s "dream" college without a stressful life leading up to admissions. In his opinion the key is to free you schedule and spend that free time doing something you enjoy. That devotion and interest shows when it comes time to apply to colleges and colleges appreciate the deviation from the cookie cutter, "well-rounded" and often burnt out applicant.

This devotion and interest is most often categorized as passion. But Newport goes further to explain what passion really is saying, that it’s not passion that matters but "genuine interest". Fake "passion" engineered for admissions is easy to see through; it’s the kind of interest that stems from personal choices that admissions officers appreciate when it shines through a person’s personality and interactions.

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2 thoughts on “How to be a High School Superstar: Pt. 1

  1. Awesome! So glad you are reading this book. I hope you’re also following his blog Study Hacks. Two posts I’d point you to in particular are:

    The race to somewhere: how to make college admissions process the foundation of a well lived life
    An open letter to students on the dangers of seeing school as a trial to survive

    Both of these posts are wonderful in framing the need for How to be a Superstar, in my opinion.

    One thing I’m curious about—a few of your classmates have taken the book and find it to be a pretty big turn off—they see Newport as pushing students to be even more stressed, not less, think he’s pompous and encouraging students to stress out even more as they try to save the world with some big accomplishment that will earn them college admission. I personally don’t see it this way at all, but I’m wondering what you think.

    • 🙂
      No I don’t think of the book that way. I really like the perspective he has on the system and the idea of success without stressing, because that’s helpful and important to me.

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