Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rejection Letters

A couple months ago I wrote about college rejection letters and how some teenagers think they can be "too mean". I sneered at these teenagers, telling them:
News flash to you narcissistic teenagers--much as you may not want to hear this, it's not all about you or your feelings. The college is telling you that you didn't make their cut; I'm sure they didn't go out of their way to be harsh, and neither should they go out of their way to molly-coddle you...

Don't be such whiners. Get some dignity; you're responsible for your self-esteem, not some university.

Welcome to the real world, wherein you're not the center of the universe.
With acceptance/rejection letter season in full swing, the Wall Street Journal has a story on such letters:

Even with impressive test scores and grades, abundant extracurricular activities, good recommendations and an admission essay into which "I poured myself heart and soul," Daniel Beresford, 18, of Fair Oaks, Calif., netted 14 rejection letters from 17 applications, he says. Among the denials: Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins and the University of Chicago. (He's bound for one of his top choices, Pepperdine University.) When he "realized it was going to be so much harder this year," he started calling in reinforcements, asking teachers and friends to open the rejections for him.

Your heart and soul, you say? Is it just me, or does this kid sound like an immature little wussy?

Still, the article's worth reading just to get a kick out of the ways the different schools word their rejection letters. It ends thusly:

After getting rejections from Harvard and Yale, Isaac Chambers, 17, Champaign, Ill., a top student, track athlete, student-government leader and an editor of his school's online newspaper, posted these words of advice for other rejected candidates on "When you're in the dough," he wrote, "fax the colleges that denied you a copy of your rejection letter every day -- letting them know just how badly they screwed up."
I think Harvard and Yale can thank their lucky stars that they didn't admit such a self-centered little baby. He has an extraordinary ego for someone who's only 17 and who isn't a household name. Sorry, young Mr. Chambers, but I doubt those schools (or any others) will be kicking themselves in 30 years for not admitting you this year. I'm sure they'll do just fine without you.

I'd like to think the kid was just venting or even joking, but tell me you can't imagine a kid so full of himself that he thinks he's entitled to go wherever he wants and any school that didn't accept him made an admissions mistake.


orominuialwen said...

I was actually excited to get my (one) rejection letter. I applied to 5 schools, and got into 3. I got accepted by my first with a full ride scholarship, so I never finished the application for the last one. Ironically, even though the school that rejected me (Rice) was one of the most prestigious of those I applied to, but I was happy not to have to fight with one of my parents to be able to go to the college I really wanted in the first place. The school I go to now is miniscule and in the middle of nowhere, but has harder academics than a lot of bigger, more famous schools. These kids need to just grow up!

Chanman said...

Awwww... the poor baby only got into Pepperdine. How will he ever be able to live with the rejection?

Mrs. C said...

I don't know that it's *entirely* the young man's doing. I can understand that for him, it's his life's work over. Here he had probably been told from infancy that he could do anything if he applied himself, etc. etc.

Sure, he has growing up to do. But if he isn't drugging, sexting and is a hard worker with a good character... well, maybe he needs to be sad about this for a while.

I remember one rejection letter I got from a university to this day. It basically read thanks for applying, and we sure appreciate the fact that your uncle has a lot of money and is a generous guy, but you didn't cut it!

Um, I never *told* them I wanted to be admitted because of who my uncle is. There was, however, a spot on the form that they *asked* stuff like that.

Ok. Anyway, maybe that experience coloured my opinions. I had one other rejection letter and I don't even remember which uni. which tells you it really IS ok to say "no." It can be done a little more tactfully sometimes, though.

Loni said...

The most impressive and intelligent students I know are the most humble and care the least about a school's often-meaningless prestige.

Students with this kind of personal instability remind me of the one's who get to college and can't hack it.

Steve, USMA '85 said...

This is an interesting topic as I just helped my third (and last) child get into college.

All three would rip open the envelop and scan the first sentence or two which would say whether they were accepted or not. If not, they didn't even bother to actually read the letter let alone care about the verbiage. They only cared about the ones that said 'You are accepted in the class of 20XX.'

I tend to agree with my children. A rejection letter is in the class of junk mail. Once you see what it is, why bother reading it?

They all got into good schools so I'm happy.

Except on the day I write the checks that is. :^(

Anonymous said...

When we were getting ready to graduate from college and were all sending applications to companies/places of business to gain employment, there was a bar in town that would give a free shot of tequilla to anyone who brought in a rejection letter--no limits. I got 3 shots.

Mrs. Bluebird said...

Since Mommy and Daddy have spent their entire lives telling them that they're special and the world revolves around them, is it any surprise? Honestly, every year my students get more and more self-centered.

PeggyU said...

Hey, Mom! I just got my letter from Princeton!!! What does FOAD mean?

miriam said...

These kids have strained every sinew to get into the "right" college. All that community service, class leadership, tuba lessons and lacrosse playing was done with an eye toward Harvard--not for its own sake.

Harvard is full of the same sort of dummies as attend other colleges.


Anonymous said... I googled my know just for kicks (didn't find much)and found this. I'm the wussy from Fair Oaks. It's kinda funny, because I guess it totally proves people saying that we have egos and all that, but I don't care too much. I just thought I'd share my opinion because I have learned a lot from this experience.

First of all...I'm not quite sure I said "heart and soul"...though I might have...idk. I did work hard on the essays but it wasn't really my strength in the application. I probably said something along the lines, but it was still a little embarrassing to read myself. It does make me sound like a wussy...maybe I am I just thought I'd clear that up.

And when it says that I called my friends for reinforcement? No one said this, but I always thought that made me look like I was all sad and got my friends to cry with me. Not the case. By that time, I had realized what the Ivy Leagues (they were last) were going to say. So for fun, I let my classmates read it on the way home from a Speech Trip before I did. Idk. Kinda lame I guess.

You guys are kinda on the right point in as much as kids like me have no excuse whatsoever to continue to mope around about getting rejected from colleges if there are so many other opportunities out there. On the other hand, though, I think it is important to realize that this article was written very close to the rejection letter time. We were all still bummed out. You know, we spent a lot of time on these applications, we should have a little bit of time to mope right?

Personally, it wasn't so much of the thought that I would get into some of the colleges that made me upset about rejections. It was realizing the things that I could have done better. I didn't expect to get in many of the colleges I applied to. That's why I applied to 17. Not all of them were impossible...stats at JHU, USC, Davis, and Irvine were close to mine and I did get waitlisted at Chicago, but their application levels were just so high this year that it was harder than I thought.

Now that I've ranted and raved about what is now a dead topic (but I love to write, so I'm doing it anyway), there are some things I have learned.

First, the majority of you are rightfully laughing about this. This is nothing compared to later experiences in life. Thankfully, now I know a little bit more about the rejections that will undoubtedly be present in my life and how to deal with them.

Second...Pepperdine has turned out to be a really good fit (and it came with a generous "half-ride"? scholarship). If I get chosen to be accepted off of Chicago's waitlist, I'm not so sure that I'm going to accept. Actually, scratch that. I wouldn't accept. So, yeah, looking back on things, it was silly to be upset about the rejections.

The last thing I will say is that there should be a certain semi-comforting aspect to rejection letters. I mean, it doesn't have to be amazing or exceptional...just pleasant. Yeah, it is true that the first line is all that matters. But reading the rest of the letters made me feel either better or worse. A college should generally state some stats (especially in a record-breaking year) that give the student some comfort and perhaps make a compliment on the overall quality of applicants that year. I mean, that's just my personal preference. Most of them are written alright. Some are written well and were more comforting than you would think (namely, Duke). Others are not written so well, and made me feel like I was just another applicant that was easy to cut...of course, I was, but I'm not supposed to realize that until a week later haha.

Anyways, in case anyone ever reads this, that's what I wanted to say. I just thought it would be interesting if I added a little perspective. College rejections should not be something that you mope about for more than a few days (the fax story was ridiculous...and I really hope the kid was joking) but they should be something that we should be sad about. If we aren't disappointed in our failures, then what's the incentive to succeed?

Darren said...

You come off *much* better here than you did in the Bee article! Thank you for commenting.

Darren said...

Correction: Wall Street Journal, not the Bee.

Daniel Beresford said...

Wow took me forever to remember this. Finally got my rejection from Chicago's wait-list. And all I have to say is I. Don't. Care. haha.

But yeah...sorry for my repetitive randomness...

Daniel Beresford said...

Woah...went off on a tangent with Chicago...forgot to write what I wanted to.

Thanks for commenting back! I just wanted to provide perspective, that's all.


Darren said...

Random repetitiveness is better than douchebag-ness. Thanks for coming back!