At this time of year the early news
from colleges reaches students eager for acceptances. Some of the news
will be good. And, inevitably, some of it will be disappointing. However,
none of the news will be life threatening. Indeed, the old saying, "When
one door closes, another opens" should come into each disappointed
student's consciousness. For there will be other satisfying avenues to
colleges resulting in successes as yet unknown. There is no one road to
such successes. What follows is a testimony to this truth.
On the Joys of Not Getting What You Want
By LAWRENCE J. MOMO
Lawrence J. Momo is the director of college counseling at Trinity
School in New York City.
When I was a senior in high school, my application for
admission was rejected by the college I most wanted to attend.
I can recall my disappointment, lying on my bed staring at the
mercilessly thin envelope and crying in my beer, which I could do
literally because the drinking age was then 18. My mother even wrote a
letter of complaint to the dean of admission, which, years later, made me
look more kindly on such letters I would receive as a dean of admission
I took about a day to lick my wounds, consider my other
quite good options and move on to a very happy and successful college
career. And occasionally, I think about what I would have missed or how I
might be different had I gone to my "dream" school. As an
impressionable and unsophisticated blue-collar kid, I was susceptible to
the prevailing attitudes of time and place, and the college where I
enrolled had a very particular influence on me. I would have missed the
fervid and fertile excitement of my college in the late 1960s that shaped
the political and social views I hold today. I would have missed the
curriculum my college required and its books, many of which are still
dear to me. I would most likely not have chosen my profession, lived
where I do or valued the same engagements. I would not have met my wife.
So, to those of you caught in the maw
of distress over not getting what you want, take heart, but also take
heed of the following thoughts that may help:
* Allow yourself some time (a day) to be disappointed. The emotion
is appropriate and real, so don't ignore it.
* Don't hide. Seek out your family and friends for support; they
love you no matter what and will jolly you out of this.
* Don't take it personally. Remember that not getting in these
days is not an embarrassment, just a reflection of a process that is
ridiculously out of control. Their bad judgment is not your fault.
* Get back to work. If you are like most students, you have work
to do in the form of other applications. Take a deep breath, roll up your
sleeves and get to it. Assemble what you have written already to see if
it might be useful to you elsewhere, but beware of the mistake of forcing
some answer into a question it does not fit. If you need to craft a fresh
response, do it. Admissions officers take supplement answers very
Life is a long, profound and passionate thing, and yours
will work out just fine, as cliche as that sounds. The train you are on
just hit a bump; it has not been derailed.
Most probably, you would not have looked good in the colors of that dumb