The envelope, please: dealing with rejection

One of the newest online offerings from The New York Times is a blog of sorts in which six high school seniors talk about the college admissions process: the applying, the waiting, the angst, the rejection letters.

s-REJECTION-LETTER-largeOn The Choice: Demystifying College Admissions and Aid, you can follow along with six prospective college students as they share the drama (?) of waiting for those letters of admission or rejection.

It’s kind of like a reality show for blogosphere wonks.

Times education writer Jacques Steinberg acts as the site’s curator. As he explains in The Choice’s inaugural post, “Our primary goal is straightforward: to demystify and illuminate an American rite of passage that typically occurs behind closed doors, whether it’s the doors to the university admissions office, or those of the homes of the applicants themselves.”

While there is a little bit of a Real World feel to the six students’ posts, it does provide a look into how high school students (and their families) deal with rejection — a lesson better learned sooner than later. Some, like Anne Paik of L.A., puts on a brave front (“I will not let myself dissolve into a miserable puddle of self-pity,” she writes) but admits that “Underneath this cheerful bravado of sunshine and happy-go-lucky attitude, I’m really hurt and disappointed.”

I feel as if I’ve been rejected not just as a student, but also as a person, an individual with unique hopes and dreams. And that kind of personal rejection hurts much more than a rejection based purely on academic achievement. It’s a direct blow to my self-esteem, and causes me to question my own self-perception.

Oh, to be 18 again. (Actually, since I went to an open-admissions community college — which were called “junior” colleges back then — I can’t really relate to the whole rejection thing.)

Others, like Brian C. Bose, shrug off the disappointment with a “didn’t really want to go there anyway” attitude coupled with a fatalistic “the university is telling me something” outlook. Here’s an excerpt from his latest post:

N.Y.U. [which rejected Bose] provides fantastic training in the arts in the city that never sleeps. It’s New York for crying out loud; the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of” as Alicia Keyes sings it.

But the university is missing one key element: a campus, a true community. No school is perfect, and every school we apply to requires a compromise on at least one factor. So I applied knowing that N.Y.U. was missing out on that key aspect.

Besides, “I didn’t get accepted, so the universe decided that one for me.”

Nice to see today’s prospective students rely so heartily on reason and empiricism.

Whether it’s the universe or the blogosphere, something is apparently telling people to read these kids’ posts. Paik’s post, from April 4, has 140 comments, and Bose’s, just published today, has 19 so far.


Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

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