Collegewise counselor Davin S. forwarded me this New York Times article, “It’s Never Going to Be Perfect, So Just Get It Done.” The link was persnickety and really wanted to require a subscription until I somehow tricked it into revealing itself, but the gist is pretty clear: Voltaire was right—perfect really is the enemy of good. Anything worth doing will likely never be perfect. While you shouldn’t release something that doesn’t make you proud, if you hold out for perfect, your project will be on hold indefinitely.
The “perfect vs. good enough” challenge shows up often for students writing college essays and completing applications. They’ve written. They’ve revised. They’ve sought and incorporated feedback. The work is more than good enough to submit. But the pressure and anxiety take hold and drive them to seek one more opinion, try one more revision, make one more polish, over and over until they’ve not only missed perfect, but also left good enough behind.
This is one of the many reasons so many students scramble right up until the application deadlines. The search for perfect never ends until the deadline decides good enough will have to be good enough.
College applications deserve time and attention. I would never recommend an applicant complete them like a task for which done is always good enough. But when incremental improvements become unnecessary changes, you’re moving further from perfect, not closer to it. Here are two past posts, here and here, to help you tell the difference.