FEBRUARY 3, 1997
Advice to graduates
by Josh Large, UW graduate
For aspiring college students, the winter months represent more than the dawn of a new year. February marks the deadline for many college applications and the beginning of a tortuous waiting period for replies.
Unfortunately, selective colleges and universities send out far more slim rejection letters than they do hefty acceptance packets. To those of you waiting to see which kind of letters you receive, a word of advice: relax. I will not patronize you by suggesting that rejection letters are blessings in disguise, but I will tell you that they are far from the end of the world.
As a high school senior with poor grades and mediocre SAT scores, I was rejected by my first and second choices. I was so unhappy at the school I went to that I worked extremely hard my freshman year and got good enough grades to transfer to another school. For me, rejection instilled a motivation to do well that carried on throughout my college career.
Most people, however, love their first year of college, be it at their first, second, or third choice. College, as the cliché goes, is what you make it. Most schools are far bigger than high schools, with much more to offer. New students can find like-minded people at almost any place.
They can also find excellent professors. There is currently a tremendous glut, particularly in the liberal arts, of young, talented PhDs trying to find jobs in academia. Hence, a school need not be prestigious to hire a highly-qualified faculty.
If you still wish to attend a place like Harvard, Columbia, or Berkeley, but are unable to transfer there, summer term provides an excellent alternative. Almost all major colleges and universities open their summer enrollment to the public and offer provisions for summer housing. Though students usually shudder at the prospect of spending warm summer days in a classroom, schools generally offer flexible summer hours with lots of evening classes.
Study abroad is another option. Colleges large and small, modest and prestigious, participate in foreign study programs. A year abroad can offer the ideal change of environment from everyday college life.
In short, should those fancy schools reject you in April, do not despair. It is possible to get an excellent education at almost any school in this country. There is also the opportunity to transfer, or to spend a term at another school. Wherever you end up, college can be a fun and rewarding experience, provided that you are willing to make the most of it.