“Creating a substantial self-prospectus by way of critical self-evaluation elevates your confidence to outline feasible goals and motivates you to accomplish them.” — Michael D. Lewis

Extract from BANK ON SELF-INVESTMENT | Chapter 2

To improve anything, you need to begin by examining your starting position. If you want to grow a garden, you need to take stock of the soil quality and any plants that are already growing in the area. If you want to achieve a specific grade in school, you need to examine your current grades alongside the curriculum to become aware of what areas need the most improvement. If you want to improve yourself, you need to perform an honest evaluation of where you are now. This evaluation will help you decide what kind of changes you want to make in order to improve and uplift yourself.

In finance, the document that gives potential investors information about a company’s investment security status is known as a prospectus. It is a legal document prepared by companies, and it contains in-depth details about a mutual fund, stock, bond, or other investments. This document typically includes information about how many shares are being offered by a company, a background on the company, and its financial status, among other things, so investors can know if the stock being offered is a good match (Kuffel, 2019, para. 3). It takes some of the uncertainty out of the process of investing by giving investors more information about how well a company is doing right now. With this information, investors can decide if investing in the company is a good fit for their goals, and the magnitude of risk tolerance they’re comfortable with.

When you’re investing in yourself, you must perform a self-evaluation and create a prospectus too. You need a sense of where your starting point is. Do you have a long way to go before you meet your goals, or are there just a handful of things you need to change? How far away are you from where you want to be in life? What have you done so far to get closer to your goals, and what do you still need to do? Answering these questions will help you get a better sense of your “personal prospectus.” At Denbigh High School, every exam season hit me with a tidal wave of depression. No matter how hard I tried to prepare for those exams, the Bs, Cs, and Ds always presented themselves on my report card—every term. At that point in my academic life, my prospectus was not looking very good. Some of the actual comments on my report cards were:

“Michael is capable of doing better, but he needs to give his school work greater priority.”

“A fair performance, but [he] needs to settle down and exert more effort.”

“Capable student, but he wastes time. He needs to be more focused.”

“[He] tries, but seems to find the subject difficult.”

One teacher even wrote, “A disappointing exam result.”

This was unsatisfying. I wanted to rip my report cards into a million pieces to erase the evidence of my academic dissatisfaction. Though my grandmother, father, and other relatives were constantly disappointed in my academic performance in high school, they believed I could do better and continuously motivated me to try to do so. To be honest, I just wanted to ditch classes. No. I wanted to stay home, but I wouldn’t be allowed to. I found it very hard to sit in classes and face my teachers, knowing they showed me up like that to my guardians. But, I had no other choice. I needed to learn and prove to everyone that I was really capable of performing better.

In the fifth form, leading up to the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations, I underwent a period of self-evaluation.

How do I recover from these near-failing and failing grades and flourish on the CSEC exams?

Can my aim of becoming Head Boy or Deputy Head Boy—roles of prominent student responsibility used in the British education system—be accomplished if I do not perform well on the CSEC exams?

What can I do to ensure that I get good enough grades to transition to university smoothly?

Receiving bad grades on the CSEC exams could be devastating in several ways. I realized that if I did not perform well enough on those exams, the chances were I would have to re-sit them, and that would impede my aim to become the next Head Boy or Deputy Head Boy. On top of those possible outcomes, failing those exams would also hamper my goal to attend university sooner, rather than later.

The self-evaluation I performed propelled me to shift my attention to what was necessary at the time—my academics. Achieving better grades was at the top of my priorities in the latter part of fifth form. At that time, my in-class grade for Mathematics was C, and I had a D in English. The other subjects did not look so good either, except for a few. My interest was in the Arts. I had an A in Visual Arts. Moreover, my passion for acting led me to pursue Theater Arts as an additional CSEC subject as if I had not enough burden with nine others. To study this subject alone, I was required to travel on the weekends to another high school—Mona High School in Kingston, Jamaica—roughly an hour-and-a-half drive away from my hometown.

The high level of commitment I exerted to ensure that my grades improved caused me to ignore prior distractions. My participation in extracurricular activities and the time I would spend hanging out with friends decreased drastically. The hours I spent reading, writing, and practicing in preparation for my exams increased significantly. I devoted myself to preparing for the level of stress I would endure during every external exam. My mind was set on entering each sitting with confidence and exiting just the same.

In the end, I was successful in all my CSEC examinations. For Theater Arts, I was the top-performing student in Jamaica, and I was ranked fourth in the Caribbean. I was admitted to sixth form and assigned the positions of Deputy Head Boy and Peer Counselor President. Two years later, I was qualified to enroll in any Jamaican university. As I assessed my performance on high school exams, I underwent a more in-depth evaluation of myself and the goals I envisioned achieving. At that time in my life, I realized that those goals, and several others, were far-fetched if good grades were not part of my prospectus.

In a sense, you are your prospectus. Your self-evaluation and commitment to positive change let others know you are serious about your success. They can put their faith in you confidently. Think of this as a job interview. In the interview, you present your prospectus, which tells a potential employer your background and how you’ve improved. If your prospectus is strong, the employer knows there is minimal risk in hiring you. They can be sure you’re going to get the job done well, all because you invested in yourself and improved your prospectus. That said, your prospectus isn’t just for others to be amazed by you and your accomplishments. It helps you have faith in yourself as well. Creating a substantial self-prospectus by way of critical self-evaluation elevates your confidence to outline feasible goals and motivates you to accomplish them.

Work Cited

Kuffel, H. (2019, Oct. 2). What is a prospectus and how do you read one? SmartAsset.