They had their chance
Low power mode continues, but I had to say something about this!
We’re in low power mode for a few days due to spring break and Easter. Thanks for reading!
We've just passed Ivy Day, when the Ivy League and other top colleges revealed which applicants were offered seats in the class of 2027. It’s always stress-inducing, and it's getting more so.
I have two things to say about this. The first is that elite U.S. colleges need to expand; instead, the truly elite ones, where the insane tuition is most likely to pay off in the long run, are in some cases doing the exact opposite: actually shrinking the size of their undergraduate classes.
For example, the U.S. population has grown 33 percent since 1980, but the size of the freshman class at Harvard has actually been reduced 9 percent.
In exchange for their continued federal funding, tax-exempt status, massively privileged endowments and rarefied air, I'd love to see these elite colleges go on an acquisition spree, buying the physical plants of some failing colleges. I dream of a "Harvard University, Gary, Indiana Campus" or "Stanford University at Omaha."
It probably isn't going to happen, but if I ever run for office it will be part of my platform. (Not that I am going to run for office.)
The second thing I have to say is to share the stories of people who didn't get into their dream schools, but who say their lives turned out pretty darn good anyway.
As someone who thought way back when, for some bizarre reason, that Notre Dame would be my dream school, probably because one of my high school English teachers was a very proud alum, but who is glad now that I did not get in (they had their chance), I'm glad to have compiled these.
If you know someone who’s waiting for what we used to call the “fat envelope,” or who has recently received some bad news, maybe they’ll find this useful.
First choice was UCLA; went to UC, Santa Barbara.
“I always thought I’d go to UCLA. … I ended up not only loving the smaller atmosphere [at Santa Barbara}, but the central coast in general. I was there when [the movie] Sideways happened … and ended up starting a wine business … Those were good years, also because my wife happened to transfer in…”
–Mark Aselstine, founder, Uncorked Ventures
First choice was either Sarah Lawrence College or Vassar; went to Marymount Manhattan College.
“Because I wound up going to school in the big city, major things happened for me. From working in bra-fitting retail jobs that would eventually bring me on TV shows like The Martha Stewart Show … to meeting my husband. I’ve now been living in NYC for 15 years … [It] forced me to grow up a bit faster, yes, and it also helped me grow in other ways that I couldn’t have even imagined.”
–Kim Caldwell, owner, Hurray Media
First choice: Harvard; went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“I had always wanted to go to Harvard, not necessarily because I knew anything about it but because it was Harvard. I ended up going to MIT instead, which in retrospect was a far better choice for me as I would not have fit in at Harvard at all, although I fit in quite well at MIT. ”
–Steve Silberberg, FitPacking
First choice: Brown University; went to University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
“I applied to Brown University … I thought I was a shoe-in. … I wasn’t accepted! … After I processed my grief and devastation … It was at UMASS Dartmouth that I discovered my love for psychology and decided to switch my major from pre-med. To say [my current role] is a dream job is an understatement.”
–Erin Reynolds, PsyD, Clinical Director, Baylor Scott & White Sports Concussion Program at The Star
First choice: Columbia University; went to NYU.
“I got rejected from Columbia University and it worked out in my favor because at New York University, I got my housing paid for. At [that] time, I needed a home because I was also homeless. I didn’t have family to stay with, so the dormitory became my home.”
First choice: Dartmouth; went to: Northwestern University.
“I applied early admission to Dartmouth and got rejected, and then applied regular admission and got rejected a second time (I wonder how many people can say that?).
“I went to Northwestern University instead and met some of my best friends to this day, 20+ years later. … I think the silver lining was realizing that I’m much more of a midwest/west coast girl than east coast, although I now live in Texas, so I should probably add south to the list as well!”
–Heidi McBain, professional counseling for women, HeidiMcBain.com.
First choice: Duke University; went to: University of Rhode Island.
“I grew up in Providence, R.I., attending Classical High School. … Not wanting to go to college in my home town, I summarily dismissed Brown and insisted I would go to Duke. I made some tragic mistakes on my application. I was heartbroken.
My guidance counselor applied for me to the University of Rhode Island. I received numerous scholarships and financial aid. I got my MBA from UCLA [and] I carried an enormous chip on my shoulder … I used this chip to graduate early, start multiple businesses, sit on boards … and be one of the young donors who gives back to URI. [Also], I did meet my wife at URI.”
–Chris Jarvis, Jarvis Tower
First choice: Notre Dame University; went to: Indiana University.
“I’d been rejected. I sat in that empty classroom and cried for a few minutes. What was I supposed to do now? I ended up going to Indiana University, and honestly, it was amazing. I [took] my first creative writing classes at IU with amazing professors. … I ended up exactly where I needed to be with friends and faculty who have continued to shape my life to this day.”
–Annie Sullivan, author, A Touch of Gold
First choice: New York University; went to: Syracuse
“I’m from Arkansas. I grew up around farmers and farmland. Half of my life
was spent with chickens in my backyard. NYC … I could feel the pull of the city. … I fell in love with NYU. But alas, I was rejected. I chose to attend Syracuse University instead due to their strong business program. … Orange pride quickly grew on me!
Any suggestions to consider transferring were shot down with a nice, ‘No thanks. Bless your heart.’ … In fact, if everything had happened in the way that I planned, I wouldn’t be as far ahead in my career as I am now. So yes, things certainly worked out.”
-Frank Walker, TD Securities
I’d be willing to bet my last dollar that some of you have stories as good as these or even better, about the college you really wanted to go to, or the life choice you thought everything depended on—and how the best thing that ever happened was not getting what you thought you wanted. Let us know in the comments.
Thanks for reading. Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash. I wrote about some of this before at Inc.com. During low power mode we usually skip the 7 other things section. It'll be back next week ... or maybe sooner!