College Admission Rejection Secrets of the Rich and Famous
Getting into elite colleges is an extremely difficult process.
In fact most ivy schools accept less then 10% of all applicants. Harvard accepts only a little more than 7% of the 29,000 undergraduate applications it receives each year, and Stanford’s acceptance rate is about the same. That means there will be tens of thousands of kids who don’t get accepted at colleges they apply to.
So, how will these kids deal with the dreaded rejection letters?
A recent Wall Street Journal recently interviewed several rich and famous professionals on how they dealt with college rejection.
“Both Warren Buffett and “Today” show host Meredith Vieira say that while being rejected by the school of their dreams was devastating, it launched them on a path to meeting life-changing mentors. Harold Varmus, winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine, says getting rejected twice by Harvard Medical School, where a dean advised him to enlist in the military, was soon forgotten as he plunged into his studies at Columbia University’s med school. For other college rejects, from Sun Microsystems co-founder Scott McNealy and entrepreneur Ted Turner to broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw, the turndowns were minor footnotes, just ones they still remember and will talk about.
“The truth is, everything that has happened in my life…that I thought was a crushing event at the time, has turned out for the better,” Mr. Buffett says. With the exception of health problems, he says, setbacks teach “lessons that carry you along. You learn that a temporary defeat is not a permanent one. In the end, it can be an opportunity.”
Mr. Buffett regards his rejection at age 19 by Harvard Business School as a pivotal episode in his life. Looking back, he says Harvard wouldn’t have been a good fit. But at the time, he “had this feeling of dread” after being rejected in an admissions interview in Chicago, and a fear of disappointing his father.
As it turned out, his father responded with “only this unconditional love…an unconditional belief in me,” Mr. Buffett says. Exploring other options, he realized that two investing experts he admired, Benjamin Graham and David Dodd, were teaching at Columbia’s graduate business school. He dashed off a late application, where by a stroke of luck it was fielded and accepted by Mr. Dodd. From these mentors, Mr. Buffett says he learned core principles that guided his investing. The Harvard rejection also benefited his alma mater; the family gave more than $12 million to Columbia in 2008 through the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, based on tax filings.”
Here are three more good ways to deal with college admission rejection…
1. Don’t take it personally. Admissions decisions may have nothing to do with your credentials, test scores, extra-curriculars, or personal essay. You could be a great candidate who’s fully qualified but just not what the school’s looking for this year.
2. Send updates. Let the school that wait-listed you know it’s still your first choice. Send a note with an update on what you’ve been doing since you sent in your application. If you’re really eager to attend or build a relationship with the school, it’s a positive — because that’s the one time it may be rewarded.
3. Take it as a sign to improve. (From the Wall Street Journal) “Paul Purcell, who heads one of the few investment-advisory companies to emerge unscathed from the recession, Robert W. Baird & Co., says he interpreted his rejection years ago by Stanford University as evidence that he had to work harder. “I took it as a signal that, ‘Look, the world is really competitive, and I’ll just try harder next time,'” he says. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame and got an MBA from the University of Chicago, and in 2009, as chairman, president and chief executive of Baird, won the University of Chicago Booth School of Business distinguished corporate alumnus award. Baird has remained profitable through the recession and expanded client assets to $75 billion.”
Until next time,