April is the cruelest month. Especially in the college admissions business.
With admissions rates plummeting into the low single digits at some schools, April is inevitably a month of disappointment for literally hundreds of thousands of students across the country, and across the world. Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, MIT reject tens of thousands of kids with perfect test scores, perfect grades, perfectly groomed resumes, and perfectly written essays.
As Kilgore Trout, the hero of many of Kurt Vonnegut’s novels, might say: “And so it goes.”
A recent editorial in the New York Times penned by Frank Bruni delves into this cruel system of college admissions. He doesn’t try to make sense of it. Rather, he reminds students (and their parents) of what is important. He doesn’t yammer on about “sour grapes” or argue that getting into an elite college is not worth the attempt.
Rather, he aims to point toward aspects of life that matter more than the name on one’s diploma.
Here are a choice couple of paragraphs from the article:
Your diploma is, or should be, the least of what defines you. Show me someone whose identity is rooted in where he or she went to college. I’ll show you someone you really, really don’t want at your Super Bowl party.
And your diploma will have infinitely less relevance to your fulfillment than so much else: the wisdom with which you choose your romantic partners; your interactions with the community you inhabit; your generosity toward the family that you inherited or the family that you’ve made.
I make my living helping kids achieve their dreams. But what I tell them all the time is that one’s college is but a vehicle toward those dreams. The college itself is not the dream. Of course, it can be pretty darned sweet to be one of the lucky ones to land a coveted place at an über-selective college or university. And yet admission buys neither success nor happiness. These life goals can be achieved by any number of different educational routes. And the most lucky ones are those who keep their eyes on their dreams and refuse to let disappointment lose their focus on what is important in life.
College Admissions Expert