Yesterday a friend shared with me this piece from the WSJ on college rejections. The article discussed how there are a record # of HS graduates this year and subsequently a record # of college applicants. Of course with any application process there’s bound to be rejections, and this year was no exception. None of this of course surprised me…and I’m glad that the pool of talented human capital continues to improve. What did surprise me were the completely misguided priorities for some of these kids.
For example – one of the prospects discussed in the article applied to 17 schools. SEVENTEEN… back in the mid 90s I remember applications being around $50-$150. Who’s got the bank roll for 17 schools? What’s worse is that he was not admitted to 13 of the 17. Who the heck is this kid’s guidance counselor??? Among his list of rejections was Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Johns Hopkins… BUT he is “bound for one of his top choices, Pepperdine.” Not a knock on Pepperdine of its graduates, but kids that want to go to Malibu for a few years probably don’t share the same prioirities as those applying to Ivys and the like.
The column goes on to say how distraught kids are at the lack of sensitivity schools excercise when rejecting candidates. Really!??! As if to say letting you down easy makes you any more or less qualified. Lets face it, given that some of these schools have around a 7% admittance rate, ODDS ARE YOU’RE GOING TO NOT BE ADMITTED. Unless of course your daddy donated a building. That’s just reality. But maybe that’s the problem. Maybe kids today (man that makes me sound old) have grown up in an over PC, hypersensitive, there-is-no-such-thing-as-failure school and familial system.
Here’s my proposal – American academic institutions need to start teaching courses on accepting negative feedback including rejection. If we go through life thinking we’re the bomb, and not understanding our true level of qualification, how will we ever grow? Negativity can be good – it can be what drives you. A favorite example comes to mind, and that’s NBA star Gilbert Arenas, aka Agent Zero. Arenas wears the #0 because thats exactly how many minutes he was told he’d be able to play in the NBA by a former coach. Great example of taking some of that negativity and turning it around on the world to be better, to learn, and to grow.