Here's to you, top-tier Ivy League business school. After a grueling, frantic, emotionally draining application period, as well as a two and a half month period waiting for admissions decisions, the wait is finally over. You even invited me for an interview, for which I flew across country to attend on a red-eye flight on the only date that you had available, which was also my pregnant wife's due date. No problem, I know where my priorities lie, anything for you. I took time off work to attend every on and off-campus admissions event I possibly could. I networked like a ninja and got alumni recommendations and current student endorsements. I gave this application everything I had and then some, hoping that perhaps a gracious and benevolent deity (I'm not discriminating any particular religion, as I was praying to all of them at this point) would see my hard work and sacrifice and grant me admission.
I waited for the admissions decision day with bated breath. I didn't get a wink of sleep the night prior, and who could? This date had been burned in my mind for months. And then it came. I rescheduled all of my meetings, closed my door, and sat in my office waiting for my phone to ring. I had seen this entire scenario play out in my dreams for consecutive nights now. I would sit in my office, and get a phone call from the admissions director (whom I've never personally met, but whom I know from watching the admissions videos on repeat). We would chat for a little bit about the exciting months ahead and she would congratulate me again on a job well done. And as I hang up the phone, angel choirs sing and a pepper-haired Tom Brady tells me I'm a champ. It's played out so perfectly in my mind every time. And there in my office I sat, waiting. But the phone call never came. I got your email around 3pm. And unfortunately, you were unable to offer me admission to your business school at this time.
What you don't see is how furious this makes me. No matter how much bullshit you try to feed me about "so many qualified applicants" and how it "doesn't reflect personally on you or your professional achievements", I'm not buying it. Let's call a spade a spade. I wasn't good enough to get in your program. Whether it was my grades, myscore, essays, interview. It doesn't matter. You just gave me the academia-equivalent of "it's not you, it's me" and I'm supposed to pretend it's not personal?
What you don't see is my ever-depreciating self-worth. This was supposed to be my ticket to a career in finance, a new beginning for my family and me. I come home and unsuccessfully try to crack a smile before kissing my wife hello. She knew that today was the day. And now she, too, knows the result. I hold my newborn daughter in my arms. I'm sorry I let you down, honey. This was supposed to be for them. This was supposed to be about giving them a better life than they have now. I crumple down on to my bed, too exhausted and drained for words, knowing that I died a little inside today.
What you don't see is me dusting myself off and picking myself up off the pavement. At this point I've resolved that your denial of admission is not going to be the end of my pursuit of a career in finance. It's going to be a new beginning.
You don't see my renewed sense of purpose and drive, as I make my way toward the short stack of acceptance letters and welcome packets in my home office. It's time to do some serious work on the computer. I humbly accept an offer of admission from my number 2 choice, as well as the full-tuition scholarship that comes along with it. They're a target school too, so while they may not be you, I've still got a decent shot at breaking in to finance from here as well. You don't see me cold emailing, in hopes of networking before school starts and maybe even finding a pre-matriculation internship for the summer. You also don't see that I've even gotten emails back from some alums who I've reached out to. No offers yet, but I'll work on that.
And while I'm not quite over your rejection yet, you have motivated me to be a better person than I was when I applied to your school. If anything, I've learned that our pursuit of success doesn't end or begin with an admission letter. Success is a process. And with every fiber of my being, I resolve from this moment on to succeed in spite of your rejection.
So here's to you. And here's to me showing you and your ilk what you're missing out on.