As the school year comes to a close, many high school juniors are asking for letters of recommendation in advance of the college admissions process. In return, many teachers and school counselors are asking students and sometimes parents to fill out questionnaires in order to help them write these letters.
The most popular question is how the student would describe themself or how the parent would describe their child. In this season of requests, I have my own request to make—not only to students, but parents, teachers, and counselors. I suggest we retire one word in the English language forever.
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To the young women like my 17-year old daughter and the thousands of female students I meet every year: Don't ever use the word "hardworking" to describe yourself. It allows others to diminish our worth, discriminate against us, and judge us unfairly. Instead, define yourself by what you have accomplished. Men do it all of the time. Women don't want to boast about themselves. But it is not boasting. It is finally getting credit for everything we have achieved.