Thursday, 5 April 2012

For those who will be rejected

We'll soon be sending letters informing non-U.S. applicants to SAIS Bologna whether they've been accepted, put on the wait list or rejected.

This post is for those who will be rejected.

"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it," said the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso.

After the initial shock of rejection, here are several possible reactions:

- They've made a mistake.
- I'm totally useless.
- OK, how can I learn from this?

Here's what one applicant recently wrote to us even before learning the Admissions Committee's decision:

"I look forward to receiving the admission's decision and have been working on correcting my mistakes and improving on what I have learned during the application process. It has been a very enriching experience!"

Some applicants will have breezed through the application process, and SAIS will open its doors wide to accept them. But will they have learned something?

My hope is that those who are rejected will take a deep breath and consider why they may have fallen short. There's nothing personal in an Admissions Committee's rejection -- it all comes down to fit.

Here are some questions: How could I have improved my application? Was my English proficiency score too low? How about my undergraduate transcript? Did my statement convey a real appetite for an international curriculum and career? Did my referees understand why I want to go to SAIS?

It's entirely possible that failure in this instance will propel a candidate to success. Some applicants who are rejected reapply and are admitted. Others shift their sights to something more appropriate.

Some readers may remember a post we published last year on failure. We noted these colossal "failures":

- Abraham Lincoln lost in his first try for the Illinois legislature, lost in his first attempt to be nominated for Congress, lost in the senatorial elections of 1854 and 1858.
- Albert Einstein did not speak until he was four years old and did not read until he was seven.
- Van Gogh sold only one painting in his lifetime.

I'm a big believer in providing feedback to candidates who fall short. It's part of the process of learning. If you receive a rejection letter, feel free to contact me after April 16. We can set up a time to chat so I can provide feedback.

The vanquished can teach us as much as the winners. Victory and defeat can both nurture wisdom.

This unknown author knew as much: "Take risks:  if you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise."

Nelson Graves