I’ve got some bad news. You sitting down?
You may not get into your first choice college.
Is life as you know it over? Should you pack it up, find some cave in Tennessee to hide in for the rest of your life?
Here are five reasons why you may want to reconsider that plan.
1. Your choice of Numero Uno college is completely arbitrary. Go ahead, disagree, I’m waiting. (Your college had the best program in your major. You had a wonderful “feeling” when you visited campus. Your cousin’s best friend’s aunt graduated there.)
You may think you made a choice based on cold, hard, rational facts, but you didn’t. We make decisions based on emotion, then justify them after the fact.
2. The decision not to admit you bears no indication on whether you’d be able to do the work at that particular college. At most competitive colleges, 2/3 of the class is admitted for non-academic reasons (legacies, minorities, international students, athletes, etc.)
If you’re a “plain ol’ white kid,” or someone who doesn’t fit into these special categories, your competition is tough because there are fewer slots. But you can probably do the work there.
3. The data used to evaluate your candidacy for a slot at a college is so ridiculous that you’ll never encounter any other similar process the rest of your life. Seriously – your ability to sit and take a standardized test? A bunch of extra-curriculars loaded up on a resume to “look good?” Grades that demonstrate your ability to memorize facts and give a “right” answer?
Get out in the real world, most, if not all, of this stuff is seriously downplayed or even ignored. Google just announced that it no longer will look at college GPA when it evaluates job applicants)
Traditional, “left-brained” tasks are leaving the US for India and other foreign lands (even legal work), right-brained skills like the ability to get along with – to empathize – with people, to innovate, to deal with ambiguity (i.e. not just reregurgitate facts) are paramount. How good a job do you think colleges do at teaching these skills?
4. People who judge you are not always right. A couple of decades ago, a guy at Harvard Business school wrote a paper about a company that would offer a competitive service to the Post Office. He got a C.
Then he founded FedEx.
5. Plan “B” is frequently better than Plan “A.” Warren Buffet was rejected from his top choice business school. Paypal was in a completely different business before it changed to a service that allows payments by email. ‘Nuff said.
The world won’t end with a thin envelope. Keep an open mind.
– Andy Lockwood
Publisher, The Pay “Wholesale” for College Success Bulletin