Spring can be a stressful time in the life of a high school senior. They are finishing up school projects, getting ready for finals, senior balls, AP tests and hearing back from all the colleges that they applied to.
Our son, Nate, is a graduating senior and it has been a roller coaster of emotions as the college acceptance and rejection letters started to roll in during the months of March and April.
At first, he received acceptances from his “back-up” schools, which was no surprise as he felt he had exceeded their “profile” of the average student that was accepted.
As the weeks continued and the letters started to come in, there was definitely a sense of foreboding that maybe he was not going to get into the schools he had dreamed about after all.
It started at school, most likely at lunchtime, when everyone was sharing what schools they had received acceptances from. Of course Nate knew he had not heard from those same schools and began to worry that he was going to get a rejection letter.
He was correct.
And they started to come in quite consistently. Rejection letters from the schools that we all thought were “slam dunk” acceptances for him.
Over the next several weeks, he racked up a total of 12 rejection letters, plus a text from his senior ball date that she was no longer going with him, but instead with her ex-boyfriend.
For those of you that are parents, you know when your children are really hurting and it was a matter of time before Nate broke down and just felt like everything he had worked so hard for was for “nothing” because, even though he was a top student and had stellar grades and SAT and ACT scores, it looked like his back-up schools were the ones that he had to choose from.
He was devastated, and it took a toll on me too as I was trying to find a way to comfort him.
Why do I share this story with you?
Because it is truly the story that many of us have had….
How many of us have had such major disappointments that seem to just pile up at one time?
How many of us have worked so very hard in school, dental school, specialty school or graduate school only to find ourselves in debt, over-worked, struggling to make payroll and not living the life we had imagined?
Maybe we need a change of perspective.
Along comes my husband, who looked at the situation differently. Granted, he was just as shocked as everyone as to why Nate did not get into any of the schools that were his top picks.
He quickly, however, tried to change both our perspectives on the situation.
For example, one of the schools had given Nate a very generous academic scholarship that would cover over 65% of the tuition and room and board costs.
Secondly, that school had been ranked in the top ten nationwide in an area of study that Nate had considered for a major and would be a great stepping stone to a graduate degree at a top tier business school.
Finally, the school was just a short one-hour flight away versus some of the other schools that would probably have made it more difficult for us to visit due to the distance.
While Nate and I were wiping our tears, my husband was encouraging a closer look at this school and a visit was planned right away.
Soon after, Nate applied to their honors program and was accepted. This provides unique benefits for him, including student/professor ratios of 1 to 15 and other privileges regarding classes, internships, study abroad and access to professors that are only reserved for honors students.
I wanted to share this story as it taught our son Nate and me several lessons.
Life is not always fair.
Sometimes when it rains it pours.
Hard work does pay off, but you might need to change your perspective or redefine what success means to you.
Don’t compare yourself to others. They have their challenges and hardships, too. You can only congratulate them on their success and remove feelings of envy or bitterness towards them.
And finally, my very favorite lesson…one that Nate shared with me the day he committed to this university. “You know Mom, Dad was right all along. I needed to look at things differently, hang in there and open my eyes to new possibilities. He told me that success was right around the corner, and I could miss it if I didn’t change my perspective.”
A good thought for all of us as we pursue our goals and dreams for our families, our practices, our businesses and our lives.