St. Martin's College Counseling

Preparing students to thrive in college and in life through Faith, Scholarship and Service.

Month: March, 2013

Why Rejection Is Good

There’s no way around it. Rejection hurts. Being told you’re not good enough, you’re not what we’re looking for or you’re not who I want to be with is painful. It is a blow to our egos, and in many cases seems like a blow to our future.

  • I didn’t get the girl/boy who was going to make me happy.
  • I didn’t get the job that was going to solve all of my financial worries and career aspirations
  • I wasn’t elected class president/football captain/scholarship nominee
  • I didn’t get into the college that was going to make me successful and give me the life I dream of. (Read this if the preposition at the end of the sentence bothers you. But if your English teacher asks, you didn’t hear it from me.)

It’s a common misconception that rejection is a problem and that rejection prevents you from being happy, from solving financial problems or limits aspirations. And it’s a bigger misconception that getting into your dream school will give you a dream life and make you successful.

Rejection is not a problem. The problem is what you do once you are rejected. (We’re not even going to entertain the notion of “if”. You’re going to be rejected from something sooner or later, and IMO the sooner the better.) Rejection gives you an opportunity to be resilient, to find other ways to make yourself happy, to reevaluate your decisions and to determine if what you think is right for you is actually right for you.

It’s okay (normal, expected and good) to be sad about it. To be hurt by it. To seek help for feeling sad and hurt about it. (That’s why we’re here…come visit us.) And it’s a good idea to talk to your family and friends about it. You’ll often be surprised at how many other stories of rejection you’ll hear. And sometimes it’s just helpful to read about other rejection stories or listen to them.

Rejection is good because it makes you better able to adapt to challenges.

Rejection is good because it can improve your own emotional intelligence.

Rejection is good because you can turn it into an opportunity.

Rejection is good because it humbles you. (Yes, this is a good thing.)

I’ll leave you with a few suggestions from other people on how to handle any situation (including rejection):

  • Say yes, and… lessons from improv by Tina Fey. Embrace whatever happens by saying “yes” and seeing what you can add to a situation that is presented to you.
  • A little from the entrepreneur world about how your failures can help you succeed. Rejection can often work in the same way. Why didn’t you get it the first time? What can you improve for next time? Was that the right path for you to begin with?
  • Don’t lose your ability to dream. As our responsibilities grow and the anxiety and stress of achieving our goals become more overwhelming (often because of rejection, fear of rejection or fear of failure), keep dreaming. The ability to dream about solutions is often the difference between people who change the world, and people who don’t.

Will colleges see my entire transcript or just sophomore and junior years?

Wouldn’t it be great if colleges only looked at the A’s on our transcripts and gave us a free pass to get rid of that one class or that one subject that kept us from a perfect 4.0?

Or maybe  even that one year during high school when we were still adjusting/going through family problems/distracted by social obligations/moving to a new city/transferring to a new school?

Unfortunately, your grades are here to stay. And what happens freshman year doesn’t stay in freshman year. It shows up on your transcript, and is one of the main components of your application that college admissions reps have to look at while making a decision.

transcript example3a

This transcript above is a sample of what your admissions committee will see for an early action or early decision application – that is, before you have any final senior grades. So you tell me – would you judge this student off of sophomore through senior grades or would you use all the information available? For regular decision, add in one semester of senior year.

Using standard A+=4.33, A=4.0, A-=3.66, B+ = 3.33 and so on, what would it take to achieve a 4.0 or higher on your final transcript? Here’s a hint – unless you have bumps with APs and Honors, you can’t afford to get any grade lower than an A. Even that A- (3.66) will set you back.

But don’t get discouraged, this doesn’t mean you need a 4.0 to get into a good and selective school, and it doesn’t mean that not having straight A’s or even any A’s on your transcript will ruin your life or keep you from being a successful adult. It means that your options will be different, but you may even end up with more options or better opportunities depending on how you play your cards (or your transcript).

This also doesn’t mean senior grades don’t matter, because colleges do request a final transcript before you enroll and WILL revoke acceptances if you don’t maintain your grades through senior year. Looking at these admissions statistics you can see that not many schools are suffering for potential enrollees.

Moral of the story – Freshman year matters. Sophomore year matters. Junior year matters. Senior year matters. In a place where we pride ourselves on lifelong learning, every year matters. It matters because we want you to make the most of your life, and we hope you do too.

How To Pick a College Without Knowing Your Major

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Q: How do I pick a school without knowing what I want to major in?

[Source: 10th grade questionnaires]

Deciding where to go to college does depend in part on what you want to major in. If you want to be an engineer, go to a school that offers engineering. But, if you’re like most students, you either don’t know or you’ll change your mind. So basing a college decision primarily on major may not be the best (or even a good) idea.

The objective for college is unique to each individual, but I’ll just go ahead and assume that most of you want some sort of career when you graduate. And unless you want to become a doctor, or pursue other sciences or health related careers, you can gain at least half of the top 10 most desirable skills for employment in almost any major.

With predictions that 40% of America’s workforce will be Freelancers by 2020 and that US job growth is mainly in the service sectors, it’s more important to focus on schools where you can gain skills that will help you be successful, rather than focus on one particular area of study. Not to mention that when you graduate, you’ll probably be applying for jobs that don’t even exist today.

MVP College MajorsCareerSatisfaction

What should you focus on instead? In no particular order:

1. Location – Though seemingly superficial, the location of the school you choose does matter. You can’t necessarily determine where you’ll be happiest by a visit or by looking at statistics. Your best chance at success is feeling by feeling good in your environment – and that can be affected by factors such as temperature, sunlight, rainfall, distance from family,  proximity to city life or proximity to nature, and cost of living.

2. Size – Do you want to be anonymous or do you want everyone to know your name? The size of the school can also determine the number of opportunities available – often, the larger the school the greater diversity in ideas and interests. In large schools you may have more chances to redefine yourself and your goals, but fewer professors or advisers to mentor you.

3. Peer group – What kind of people go to different schools? One of the most important reasons to choose a school is to define your peers. Do you want to be surrounded by highly motivated people who look at you funny if you aren’t working on interesting projects and aren’t working towards professional goals? Or would you rather be in an environment that is less competitive and more social. Choosing a college is choosing your peer group – and your peer group can often be a major factor in your own success.

4. Opportunities outside of coursework – Regardless of whether you are interested in a more rural or more urban school environment, there are always things to do besides your classes. The more opportunities you have to pursue in your areas of interest, the quicker you’ll decide what you like, what you don’t, and what your strengths are.

5. Strength of alumni networks – Some schools have very weak alumni networks and their graduates still find jobs and satisfying careers. But if you’re looking for how to determine if graduates are happy and successful, the alumni networks are the best place to start. And it doesn’t hurt that keeping alumni connections strong can lead to future employment or relationships.

6. Educational assistance/career services – If you really don’t know what you want to do, you want to find a place that has services to help with this. Some schools are better than others, and this is a great item to keep on your list.

7. Cost – What can you afford? What will you need to take out in loans? How long will it take to pay off the loans – and what kind of salary will you need to pay it off in 10 years? Can you get a scholarship? Is the school need-blind? No matter where you go, it is important to have a financial plan in place while deciding where to apply.

~

The College Choice

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Yesterday was the first day of spring. In the college counseling office, this time of year is marked more by the anxiety of waiting for final college decisions than by the flowers or the bees or the warm weather that we expected weeks ago.  The good news is also part of it, but too often overshadowed by the rejection, the deferrals and the waiting for any sort of answer. Those are hard parts, but they aren’t the hardest.

So what is?

Making the decision of where you want to spend the next 4+ years (and what you want to spend it doing). Rejections are blessings. Deferrals, too. Any decision made for you is because it allows you to move on and own the next steps.

But two or more acceptances…this is when it gets hard. This is often when we freeze – given more than one choice, all with pros and cons. (There really is no such thing as the perfect school, even for you). Maybe one is the “dream” but the other has the money. Maybe neither are the “dream” and you are choosing between options that seem subpar. Or maybe you’re (un?)lucky enough to have all of the options.

What do you do with all of the options?

  • First, answer this question honestly: Why do you want to go to college? Not why your parents, teachers, counselors or siblings want you to go, but why do you want to go?
  • Focus not only on what you will gain by going to one, but by what you may lose not going to the other.
  • Talk with your parents seriously about finances. What are they willing to pay? What can they afford to pay? What will you need to take on financially on your own? What if you have plans for graduate school? Is it necessary to go to grad school?
  • Take time now to get to know yourself. When you go to college, even if you stay in-state, you’ll be allowed by your new community to change who you are. Don’t let the preconceived notions others have about you now influence who you want to become.
  • If you’ve been waitlisted at your top choice school, make sure they know you’re still interested. Reply to the offer immediately requesting to remain in consideration. Visit if you haven’t visited. Send a formal letter to your rep thanking them for the offer and expressing sincere interest. If it is your first choice school, tell them.
  • Visit any schools you haven’t seen yet.
  • Think about where schools are located and if this could affect your happiness and success.
  • Start planning for an interesting summer – get a job, take a class, volunteer or travel. It will not only give your mind a rest from the decision process, but will also help you know what you like and what you’re good at as you decide on a major or career path.

I’ll leave you with a look at how your peers have made their decisions in the past. Which category would you rather be in?

  • StM’s Class of 2012’s 54 graduates attended 37 different colleges and universities.
  • 20 graduates (37%) stayed in Louisiana.
  • 29 graduates (53.7%) attended a college where they were the only St. Martin’s student from their class.