College Admissions Musings – January 2015

Happy New Year!

For seniors, this might be called the continuation of ADVENT season – for many of you, the waiting continues

  • for either updates from your colleges about documents still needed or not yet on file;
  • for your first semester grades when they are available;
  • or, most importantly, for a DECISION from the college!

I was reading, recently David Brooks’ column in the NY Times from 1/5/15, where he quotes a famous speech given by John Gardner to the Stanford Alumni Association “61 years after he had graduated” —

Gardner had said:

“The things you learn in maturity aren’t simple things such as acquiring information and skills. You learn not to engage in self-destructive behavior. You learn not to burn up energy in anxiety. You discover how to manage your tensions. You learn that self-pity and resentment are among the most toxic of drugs. You find that the world loves talent but pays off on character.

“You come to understand that most people are neither for you nor against you; they are thinking about themselves. You learn that no matter how hard you try to please, some people in this world are not going to love you, a lesson that is at first troubling and then really quite relaxing.”

What I hope for all of you is that, no matter what the outcomes of your college applications, you realize that maturity, throughout this college application process, is based in large part on discovering how to manage the anxiety of learning your ‘fate’ with a particular college.  In fact, Gardner says that your life will, hopefully, be built upon your integrating MEANING into it – that you will find meaning from all kinds of outcomes, desired or not.

“Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you. … You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life.”

You have done great work on your college applications — now, begin to build meaning into your life – understanding that, no matter where you attend college, you will have the ultimate ‘last word’ on how you comprehend that journey — you’ve simply started  to look right now!

Good luck in the coming months — check back for more musings!