WSJ College Rejections

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.

  1. #1 by Heather Torres on May 4, 2009 - 7:58 pm

    Good point! I think part of the problem is that today’s generation was brought up thinking that it’s all about them. In the era of personal branding, reality shows, and “I want it now” mentality, why would we expect anything less from today’s youth? A matter of fact, my parents often question why some of their younger co-workers expect to make the same amount of money and get the same recognition when they don’t have 1/2 of the experience.

    I agree. Negative experiences make us stronger. They make us push harder and identify what we really want out of life. If everything is simply handed to us, how are we suppose to see its value?

    • #2 by kaneta on May 4, 2009 - 8:58 pm

      Funny you mention the thing about pay and recognition. Several months ago I had an undergraduate summer intern working on my team. He was bright and very focused. The problem was that he allowed a couple early setbacks to taint the way he approached the job, which affected the way folks viewed him from the start.

      I believe that had he just demonstrated a bit of humility and focused on delivering on the task at hand (regardless how beneath him the task may have been), his real talents would have eventually shown through.

      In fact you just gave me an idea for a future post. 🙂 You mentioned personal branding and I think thats of tremendous importance and value, except at the expense of self-entitlement and self-promotion. Two traits that I see time and time again among this generation of new business professionals. The same can be said for marketing.

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