By Patrick O'Connor
Word is, a student on a TV show got bad news this week from her dream college. She applied early (action?) and she was rejected.
I hear she took it badly, which clearly means her counselor forgot to tell her quite a few things:
* Most early application programs saw an increase in applicants this year.
* These schools may admit more students early, but they won’t be taking everyone…
* …and unlike years past, they won’t be moving all early applicants to the regular applicant pool.
In case you find yourself in the same boat, or perhaps deferred, I have one word of advice. OK, it’s actually a number.
No, this is not the high score on some new version of the SAT. 850 is the number of valedictorians recently rejected from one of America’s most prestigious colleges. True, this was in the regular applicant pool, but still, these students represented the best in their high schools; they did everything they were “supposed” to do—and yet, they didn’t even get to the wait list.
At this point, you’re probably thinking one of two things:
1. “Wow, they put in all of that work for nothing.” (I hear this is how the TV student took the news.)
2. “Geez, if they can’t get in, I don’t stand a chance.”
It had to be hard to be turned down by a school they loved—but did all of that preparation really lead to nothing? Given everything these students had learned, the many ways they had grown, and how they overcame adversity and embraced creativity in making Plans B, C, and Q, did they really get nothing out of it?
If so, they have every right to be unhappy, but not with the college. They should be unhappy for letting the sun rise and set 1307 times from the first day of 9th grade to the day the college said no, never once appreciating all that each of those days had to offer.
They should hang their heads a little to realize, just now, the difference they’ve made to their classmates, their teammates, and the people they served in the soup kitchen.
And if they look back with a little regret on the many times they blew off a compliment from a parent or a teacher because the goal of college wasn’t realized just yet, that’s more than OK. They now know it was at that moment that the goal of fully living each day was conquered with a flourish—and understanding that will make each day all the richer at the wonderful college that had the good sense (and room) to take them.
What about you, and the colleges you’ve applied to? They’re looking for great students who have done wonderful things with their lives. That goes beyond test scores and class rank—it goes to who you are, what you care about, and how you see the world. Problem is, they run out of room before they run out of highly qualified applicants.
The thing to focus on then, is not who told you no, but who tells you yes. If a college wants you but runs out of room, that’s their fault; if they don’t see you for who you really are, well, maybe that’s not the place for you after all. Either way, your contributions will be greatly admired, and badly needed, by the college that has the good sense to tell you yes—which means any no, from any college, simply cannot touch you.
Next time you’re in Hollywood, pass that along to our femme fatale.