Emerson said it best: An authentic education “allows a scholar to give the world the shape of his own mind.’' But old Waldo never had to endure the 20th-century college admissions process. Harvard just said, “Come.’'
I have been teaching in public high school for 28 years, and every December and April I witness the anguish that accompanies the letters from colleges that say, “Don’t come.’' Given the shock and pain that accompany these letters, I have felt compelled to hold a deferral party in December for the disappointed. We critique deferral and rejection letters, make offerings to Buddha for better fortune in April, and consume endless numbers of hot-fudge sundaes, often the only true comfort in a cold world. Ironically, the party has created a sufficient cachet for the value of rejection, and one student who was admitted to her early choice told me that the only drawback to admission was missing the party.
A version of this article appeared in the August 01, 1994 edition of Teacher as Viewpoint: College Exasperations