Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Learning from Rejection

These are scary times for high school seniors as they discover where they've been accepted -- or not. I still remember an April day, during spring break, when I was home and waiting for the mail. Except the mail was late due to a substitute postman, of all days. So I passed the time talking with friends who called to share their fates.

Finally the mail arrived and the news was not what I had hoped for. I'd been accepted at fine schools, just not the one I'd wanted. I spent the next week or so analyzing my situation, opted not to wait for wait lists, and made my choice. There was pain, but it was soon overtaken by graduation, a summer job, and excitement about a new chapter, even if it wasn't the one I'd counted on.

Around this time of year, you can always find stories about how people deal with rejection -- or perceived failure -- including getting a thin envelope from their college of choice. They're worth reading, whether you're in high school, in a challenging relationship, or struggling to find a job. An astute friend pointed out a good example. Even though it was J.K. Rowling, and even though she was giving the 2008 commencement address at Harvard, she makes good points, in memorable fashion, about what she called the "fringe benefits of failure."


  1. I can't believe Sara is going to college! My mother- who you may have never met had you gotten into your top choice- directed me to your blog this morning when called her distressed about my MBA situation. I am applying to USC and UCLA(my top choice) but am afraid my GMAT scores might not be good enough for UCLA. As always, mamma was right, and I was comforted by your post. I will simply be excited to get into either school.

    Anyhoo, I will be thinking about you waiting for the envelope, as I wait for my envelope (actually...I think acceptance is posted online these days... weird) .

    Good luck to Sara!


  2. Laura, so good to hear from you! Really enjoyed your comments. Fingers crossed for you, naturally. Love right back, Karen

  3. A good friend and colleague just came by to show me a rejection letter that his son had recieved from a top tier small school. His daughter graduated from their writing program about 5 years ago and they have been active and I'm sure substantial contributors/supporters of the school from day one and to this day. His daughter went on to be a successful graduate student in the writers program at Columbia.

    His son has all the test scores and grades to make the cut at this school, but nevertheless, was declined. The rejection letter had a paragraph in it that said something to the effect of -- even though your family has made a valuable contribution to our school, we don't have a place for you. Ouch! Nice way to make the kid feel good about himself.

    My friend researched the Admissions Director, who signed the letter and learned that he is newly hired and has claimed that his goal will be to "revitalize" the admissions at this (seemingly successful) school in a way that he wasn't able to revitalize his Broadway career!

    Very weird... Proof positive that there are no sure things, I suppose.

  4. Sarah, admissions seems a baffling process at times. But you'd like to think the people know what they are doing. And I am sure that for the most part they do. Then along comes a director like the one you mention. What an uncalled for, c-y-a comment to include in a a letter to the student. The director needs an editor.