Cultivating gratitude amidst anxiety, APs, and college applications

Last Updated on November 24, 2020 by Real College Matters

post by Leigh Moore; 11/24/20

Most of us acknowledge the value of gratitude.  What is it, though?  Is gratitude a gift?  A condition?  A virtue?

We want to be grateful.  Grateful people are happy people.  That’s one of the few absolutes in life which holds true even in the context of college admissions.  For example, the applicant who stops to count her parents’ sacrifices for her education to date is a little less likely to dismiss the wisdom they offer during the college search.   

So how do we become grateful? Are we waiting for a spirit of thanksgiving to alight on us at 3:30 pm on Thursday, or whenever the mashed potatoes give way to dessert?  Alternatively, have we perhaps given up on gratitude, forevermore resigned to intellectual acknowledgement of the good things in our lives without the ability to feel them anymore?

Harrison Stuart was a classmate of our son’s, a graduate of McCallie School in Chattanooga, TN.  His 2019 valedictory address resonated with me, because in it, I think Harrison illustrates how he became a grateful person.   Notably, Harrison’s account of his journey is not characterized by dramatic losses or miraculous gains.  His story is one of determination and discipline. 

Ginger and I sat down with Harrison last week to check in and talk about thanksgiving—the holiday and the noun—in the context of a busy college application season. 


Harrison demonstrates that we don’t have to wait on gratitude.  It is there for the taking.  It demands our time, but it is more than worth the effort.

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(Photo above from McCallie School website)