I am not a big fan of having internet access on flights because it is a huge temptation for me to do work in the air. So one of my new year’s resolutions is to stop getting Wi-Fi on the plane. Instead, I read, write, listen to a podcast, or, depending on the length of the flight, watch a movie. With young kids and a wife who is the romantic comedy queen, it’s a rare thing to get to watch whatever I want to watch.
Chaos Around You…
Last week I was flying to Virginia and watched 13 Hours. It’s a super violent, super intense movie about an attack in Libya on two US compounds/outposts. The movie starts with a US special ops contractor flying into Benghazi. Upon leaving the airport they immediately run into a road block and are boxed in by heavily armed and aggressive rebel fighters. It’s heated and confrontational. Guns are drawn and everyone is yelling at them in Arabic. But the two Americans are unflappable. They’ve been in situations like this before. They don’t raise their voices. They don’t panic. They stay calm and reason with the commander of the opposition force in a firm but balanced manner. Not easy, right? Chaos around you. Lots of voices. Lots of emotions. Lots on the line.
At Georgia Tech, we are about to release admission decisions and over the course of the next month, most schools will also be putting their decisions on the streets. So, when you log in to a portal, or receive an email or letter from a school with an admission decision, keep two words in mind: Be Cool. This is on you, because you can’t count on anyone else. Your parents may lose their minds. Your teachers or principal or neighbors or friends may as well. Again, lots of voices, lots of emotions, lots on the line. Two words: Be cool. Allow me to explain.
If you are admitted…
First of all, congratulations! Celebrate. Buy the t-shirt, go out to dinner, treat yourself to something you’ve been wanting to get, or just go get a double scoop of ice cream. Whatever makes you happy. Celebrate your win. Be proud. But keep in mind two things: 1- That could have easily broken the other way for you, especially if it was a highly selective college (30% admit rate or lower). Not saying you’re not the (wo)man, but holistic admission is unpredictable, as we’ve discussed. 2- Some crazy qualified and talented students did not get in, and they are disappointed and hurting.
What should you do? Act like you’ve been there before. Keep it classy, my friend. It’s okay to post your excitement on social media, but a little humility goes a long way. Big difference between: “Got into Northwestern today. They would have been crazy not to take me” vs. “Accepted to UCLA. Honored to have the chance to go there.”
What should you NOT do? Walk into school and make a big show by pronouncing your victory to the masses. Not necessary. AND, trust me, definitely not what the school who admitted you would want from you in representing them. (This is also known as the opposite of being cool.)
If you are denied…
Well…it sucks. And you can be honest about being upset. But keep it all in perspective. Nobody died. Nobody was even physically hurt. Look in the mirror. You’re the same person you were the day before. Same talents, same passions, same goals. Just a different path to get to them. Nothing has changed. Say it with me, “Nothing has changed.” Be Cool.
What should you do? You’ll need to figure out how to work it out. Go for a long bike ride or drive. Burn the hoodie (safely, please). Play some cathartic video games. Build something. Go see a movie, or just cry. By now you know how to take care of yourself in times of disappointment. If you don’t, consider this the first lesson in that very necessary, and all too frequent, life skill.
What should you NOT do? Blame someone else. “If Mr. Pruitt had given me an A in that history class…,” “If my parents hadn’t made us move in sophomore year…,” “If Coach Williams had let me play Varsity as a freshman…” No finger pointing. No regrets or should haves. It’s time to move on. You have other options. Look at this closed door as a way to push you toward the next one. Does that sound cheesy or trite? Sometimes the truth is like that.
If you are wait listed…
I’ve literally NEVER heard someone say they like to wait. “Hey, what are you doing this weekend?” “I don’t know. Was thinking I may just go wait somewhere.” Nobody loves “maybes.” But if you are wait listed, that’s what you’re being asked to do. So, again, Be Cool.
What should you do? First, accept your spot on the wait list. Yes, you have to do that. It may be as simple as completing a form or replying to an email. That is step 1; to read what they send, and do what it says. Secondly, well…wait. Easier said than done. Expect that you are not going to hear either way on admission until after May 1. Some schools, and often the extremely selective, will go to their wait list in late April, but that’s the exception, not the rule. Most start working the wait list in early May and it can continue well into the summer. So set your expectations on that time frame. It’s not going to be late March and likely not mid-April. Grab a snack. Text a friend. You have time here.
What should you NOT do? Stalk the admission office. Showing up unannounced, calling every day, sending more than one letter or postcard… it’s not effective.
Next week I’ll be writing more on the wait list. For now, just two words: BE COOL. You got this.
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