Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Waiting List is the Hardest Part

While Mrs. Spew was eating her Mother's Day Breakfast (pancakes but not in bed as she hates getting breakfast in bed [not a superfan of Mother's Day either]), I read and reacted to this NYT story on college waiting lists and the students/parents who obsess about them.  The story discusses students who are desperate to get in to their favorite school from the purgatory that is the waiting list.  They send cookies, more evidence of how wonderful they are (projects, etc), and heaps of email/phone calls.

My first reaction: "These are precisely the students I would not want to have in my class.  Once they get in, they will whine and whine about grades and everything else."

Mrs. Spew's reaction: "This is why professors are not admissions committees!"  Yes, this is why I married her.  Heaps of laughs on an early Sunday morning before she celebrates Mother's Day by going to a third day of Ottawa's Comic-con with Teen Spew.  The highlight of today will be T.S. getting a photo with Nathan Fillion.

Anyhow, this story reminded me of an old post that I cannot find right now: that there is such a thing as too much sucking up.  It is one thing to occasionally pander to the prof or to a school, it is another to be relentlessly in one's face.  It does far more harm than good.  And the article indicates that too much campaigning is going to backfire. 
To cut down on behavior like that, says David Borus, dean of admissions at Vassar College, “We are very explicit in the communications we send out about what’s going to help you and what’s not going to help you, and we make it pretty clear that if you do do some of this stuff, you’re just going to tick us off.” 

They probably will not tell someone that their chances have declined because they were obnoxious/obsequious/obstinate  (the three O's of over-doing), but that is almost certainly the reality.

The other reality is this: while some schools seem to fit better than others, you can be happy and successful regardless of the school.  Sure, getting into Harvard probably opens a lot more doors, but most of the time, going to choice #2 or #3 or #5 is probably not going to ruin one's life.

So, if you are on the waiting list, follow the instructions and do no more than that.  Or move on to the next school on your list.  Good luck and enjoy the best four to six years of your life!

No comments: