To my young friends who are dejectedly licking their wounds because they received a college rejection letter from the school of their choice, or from most of the schools of their choice, I have a few things to say to you.
None of this is personal. Colleges don’t love you or hate you. In fact, they have no feelings about you whatsoever. Colleges are businesses and they are influenced by those factors which will allow them to rise in the rankings. In any given year they may be looking for more male students or more female students, or more kids from the Midwest or the South. Or as one college admissions officer told us, you’ll get admitted if you play the oboe in a year in which they’re looking for an oboist. The college admissions process is a game of chance where the odds of “winning” at a few schools is close to nil and where once you’ve checked the grades and standardized test score boxes, the rest is out of your hands.
What colleges know about you, they know only from a file that tells them next to nothing about who you truly are. How can they know you when you really don’t even know yourself yet? If we knew who we were at eighteen, wouldn’t that make our life a short, dull story? They don’t know how hard you’ve worked. They don’t know that you are kind, funny, and caring with grand passions yet to be discovered. They don’t have the secret sauce that can divine for them who you will become later in life.
But, don’t fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself after you open the college rejection letter. The world is full of inequity. So what? Just by being born in this country, you have beaten the odds. Most of you have beaten the odds by a lot more than just living in the United States in 2016. It doesn’t matter that so and so got into your dream school with lesser grades and lower test scores. At the end of the day the cream rises to the top. End. Of. Story. If you’ve got what it takes to be successful: grit, determination and a solid work ethic, you will get where you’re going, and someday you will assuredly figure out exactly where that is.
Embrace the college that accepted you and embrace it enthusiastically. We, human beings are endowed with a fantastic ability to synthesize our happiness. Buy the t-shirt with the school’s logo and wear your school colors with pride. Find a roommate, pick classes that intrigue you and I guarantee that you will soon fall in love with the school that fell in love with you. The prevailing myth that there is one right school for you is nonsense. Throw yourself into the life of your school and make it uniquely yours by giving it the benefit of your positive contributions.
Here is where you will write your story, perhaps by meeting the love of your life, or your lifelong best friend, but in whatever way you craft your tale, one day you will realize that this is the place you were meant to be all along.
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