Thursday, February 26, 2009

How Whiny Can Some Teenagers Be?

I can't believe anyone would whine about this--but some college rejection letters are "too hurtful".

And some students say the new electronic rejections—some of which are little more than "Admissions decision: Deny"—feel much harsher than the traditional letters enclosed in ominously thin envelopes...

Some student posters on have complained that after all their hard work on essays, electronic rejections can feel especially brutal. A Rice University rejectee said he felt awful when he logged on to read "Admissions decision: Deny" and then got what he called a "hard, cold" formal rejection in the mail. A Stanford rejectee said that school's preference for electronic rejections aggravated feelings of worthlessness. "They say they won't be sending you an actual letter because that would only make it worse. Ha ha like I didn't cry enough," wrote one poster.

This story also mentions some of the sillier things colleges do for those they've accepted (confetti, t-shirts, congratulatory videos, etc.), but you just have to wonder at how self-involved someone would have to be if they're upset about receiving a "hard, cold formal rejection" in the mail.

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. So many students apply to so many schools; considering all the schools that you might turn down, do you spend a lot of time nicely wording a letter stating why you're going somewhere else? No, of course not.

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.

(I must say, though, that I like the fact that some schools post their admissions decisions online in the evenings, so students don't find out during the middle of the high school day and react there.)

Update: Here's a related story:

An Oxford University student killed himself just hours after being told his PhD thesis needed to be improved, an inquest has heard.

A coroner was told how former Buddhist monk Juncnok Park hanged himself after what he saw was a colossal disappointment and an embarrassment.

This student, however, was 37 years old.


Ellen K said...

In the cases of the suicides, those sound like people who are on the brink anyhow. But I do think that a refusal letter can be couched in words that aren't so damning as 'Deny'. How about this: "Thank you for your application. Unfortunately we are unable to offer you admission at this time. We wish you success in your future endeavors." Was that so hard? We have lost the ability to communicate in writing and colleges are no exception. There is a certain degree of respect and courtesy that even the most annoying applicant should receive in my view. On the other hand, there are students who have been (mis)led to believe that their every word or act is golden. They truly don't understand that some universities seek true diversity. And sometimes that means that the kid who wants to go there the most, just doesn't fulfill a perceived need. This also gets back to the mass assumption that all kids should go to college. Now more than ever we need technicians in fields such as electronics, HVAC, communications and computer technology. Not all of these jobs require a college degree. How about we return to the idea of offering a true vocational program for kids that want and need to work the day after they get that diploma?

A Rambler said...

You might be right that students should have more composure regarding their admissions outcomes, no matter the medium or style, but your attitude of pinning full responsibility on the students is unproductive. "How whiny can some teenagers be" removes all responsibility from the parents, counselors, and teachers in spite of the emphasis these influences placed on college success. We owe the existence of Private Guidance Conselors and noxious sites like College Confidential to elitism in the communities that nurture these students. "you're responsible for your self-esteem, not some university" is an admirable sentiment, but it has taught.

Darren said...

You bring up a valid point, that the self-esteem movement, the molly-coddling,and the pressure put on by some adults helps create this situation.

However, at some point we need to stop making excuses and take control of our own lives. Saying that the way a particular school notifies a student about rejection is "hurtful" seems just a bit too narcissistic to me. You can point the finger of blame wherever you want, but other adults aren't going to look favorably on someone who acts that way.