It's been almost a full year and a half since I wrote On Grades. On that time, I've come a lot further than I imagined possible then. I managed to patch up my mediocre grades and scored 5s on all 6 APs I took that march. I won the State Siemens Award for Oregon (Dad - if you ever read this, thank you for believing in me when I didn't believe in myself). Somehow, my sub-par GPA didn't keep me out of MIT, a school which I'd already given up all hope of attending (I still catch myself once or twice a week wondering if there's been some mistake, or I applied to the wrong MIT somehow, or if I'm just downright bonkers. It's been more than a half year since I was accepted.).
There are some bit of the On Grades pessimism that still apply. I am still living in a very small pond, and I am about to be thrown into an ocean. I am certain that at MIT I will not be in the to 10% as I am here. I probably won't even measure up to the average student. I still lack diligence. I lack experience, and I'm too used to running into tests and quizzes unprepared, counting on my logic and intuition to get me good scores. That will not, cannot, work here.
Most of all, I'm afraid of how I might react when I'm faced with a challenge that will take more intelligence than I possess to overcome, while surrounded by people who may very well see obvious solutions. I'm afraid of being thrown into an environment where so much of my self identity will be so common place, because to at least some degree, I rely on that to drive me.
I have hope. I was easily out gunned by some people at SUMaC last year, and it just made me work harder. What I have considered my identity has changed in the past, and as it does I generally become more comfortable. Perhaps being in an environment where I'm no longer near the top of the pack will give me an opportunity to find an identity that's more healthily linked to my academics. Despite my fears, I really can only look forward to being surrounded by people who share the same sorts of enthusiasms as myself.
I have one more week left here, and then it is time to fly away from this little valley behind for the time being. Despite my constant complaining, I'm going to miss everything about it.