Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Joy and Pain of Kisses

Here is something from Niece II (a follow-up to A College Acceptance to Be Proud of):

"...My English teacher got so excited [about Niece II's acceptance to PWC] he JUMPED and then threw Hershey Kisses at me and the rest of the class. Then he said he always feels awkward congratulating people this time of year because "there's always some kid who was certain that they were going to get into MIT and is totally heartbroken because they got rejected." A girl in the back of the room burst into tears on the spot; she was that kid. It was both sad and hilarious. Everyone felt awkward but he kept throwing candy."

I used to teach at that school and I know how her teacher feels. So often kids get attached to the idea of one particular school being perfect for them that they are devastated when they don't get in. You can't tell this kid that there are other great schools any more than you can tell a fifteen-year old boy who has had his girlfriend leave him for the captain of the football team that she is a tramp and there are other fish in the sea.

The pain can seem irrational or unimportant to an outsider, but it is very real. I really think that every kid who is applying to schools needs to understand that it's always a matter of some luck. Even the most perfect kid isn't guaranteed admission to every school, so if you get fixated on one in particular, there is a real chance that you will be disappointed. Taking a shot with early decision is great, but if you don't get into the school of your dreams, apply to a range of schools at which you could be happy.

College can be an incredible experience. Even if you don't get in to the school of your dreams, you can still get into a school that is really good for you. When it comes right down to it, college is more about what you do than it is about what college you attend. You can do great things after (and even while) attending a small state school or you could do nothing great after attending the finest institutions in the country. You have to accept responsibility for who you will become and not simply give some person or institution the blame or credit.

I know this seems like it's written to a senior in high school, but 1) I hope Niece II and Niece III read this and 2) all adults who might come in contact with a junior or senior in high school should think about this sort of thing so we can provide some sage advice to these kids. OK, maybe not sage advice, but not putting your foot in your mouth or saying something that results in the kid being miserable doesn't seem like such a lofty goal. BTW: I will write about college majors in a later post.

Enjoy the Hershey's Kisses.

The Day

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