Within a few weeks, Regular Decision acceptances will arrive in student’s email boxes. UCLA, UC Berkeley, Harvard, Tufts, U Miami – name a top school. Unfortunately, rejections will come out, too, and that’s what I’d like to talk about today.
Just how upset should you be if you are rejected from your top choice college? Your folks, teachers and friends will tell you it’s okay, that you have other options, that you’ll bloom where you’re planted - but inside you feel rotten. Your top college was perfect for you and you are certain that was demonstrated in your application! You find yourself thinking, Maybe there was a mistake! If not, boy am I angry! Maybe I should call the local rep and plead with them. Maybe I’ll just stay in my room and sulk until I feel better.
You may go through every stage of grief until you get to “acceptance”, but I’d like to encourage you to get there faster. Maybe you’ll begin to understand that rejection might actually be a good thing.
Here’s the truth: where you attend college matters much less than what you do while you’re in college. Think about it. Attending a top-tier college and keeping your head down, working on your studies for four years, won’t automatically cause you to become happy and successful (however you measure that). On the other hand, attending a college that values you and getting out there on campus, meeting people, finding a professor who will mentor you and really spreading your wings will take you very far.
Nearly half of college students do not attend their top-choice college. Yes, Warren Buffet was rejected at Harvard and went to Columbia, Sergey Brin was denied at MIT and ended up at Stanford for grad school, and Meredith Vieira was forced to take Tufts over Harvard. It’s hard to feel sorry for them, isn’t it? Many, many other extremely successful people, however, went to average colleges. They relied on who they are, rather than where they went to college, to make their mark.
If you are rejected from your top college, consider the following celebrities and their paths:
Oprah – Went to Tennessee State University
David Letterman – Wanted Indiana U, went to Ball State
Kristen Wiig – Went to UAZ, never graduated
Steven Spielberg – Rejected at USC twice!, went to CSU Long Beach
Lyndon B. Johnson – Attended Southwest Texas State Teachers College
Linus Pauling – Attended Oregon State University
Tom Brokaw – Rejected at Harvard, went to U South Dakota
Nancy Pelosi – Went to Trinity Washington College
Dan Harmon - Dropped out of Marquette, later attended Glendale Community College
Amy Tan – Attended San Jose State University
Tom Hanks – Went to Chabot Community College and then to Sacramento State University
Matt Groenig - Rejected at Harvard, went to Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA
Ronald Reagan – Went to Eureka College in Illinois
So, when decisions are announced in the coming weeks, carefully consider all of your acceptances and choose the college that feels right for you. Learn, grow, put yourself out there. You’ll be unstoppable!