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Life Is Full of Rejection: Take Harvard University – 22,955 Student Applications and 20,897 Rejections

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

I opened my Friday newspaper and was reminded again that life is full of rejection.

Take Harvard University for example. No less than 22,955 eager applicants applied for admission to Harvard this fall and only 2,058, or 9%, were accepted. A whopping 20,897 applicants came up short of admission.

Actually, Harvard University calls its undergraduate school Harvard College. Nonetheless, all who were admitted are certainly among the chosen few.

According to the Bloomberg News, students fared a little better at Brown University, which admitted 14% of its applicants, and the University of Pennsylvania, which admitted 15%.

The article said that “Harvard’s undergraduate tuition, room and board and other mandatory fees will rise to $45,620 and financial aid will increase to the highest in the school’s history, $103 million. About 26% of the incoming class is eligible to attend free of charge or at a reduced rate.”

Students from households making less than $60,000 annually can attend free, and students from families below $80,000 can get a reduced rate.

According to the Harvard University Gazette Online, just over half of the incoming class are women (50.5%), and records were set for minorities, including African Americans (11% rounded), Asian Americans (20%), Latinos (10%) and Native Americans (2%). Students from 79 countries are represented in the Class of 2011.

All of those statistics are good news if you were admitted. Here are some interesting facts about some of those who were not admitted:

1) Harvard admitted 2,058 students and nearly 2,500 of the applicants scored a perfect 800 on their SAT verbal test, almost 3,200 applicants scored a perfect 800 on their SAT math test, and more than 3,000 applicants were ranked first in their high school class.

2) If every student that scored 800 on his or her SAT verbal or math test and there were no duplicates, then more than 3,600 students did not get admitted. At least 900 of those students graduating No. 1 in their high school class also missed out.

It is a good thing I did not have my heart set on a Harvard education.

I never took a SAT to get into Michigan State University. I did not need to take a foreign language, trigonometry, calculus, statistics and probability, physics or chemistry to graduate from high school, and I did not take those courses, but I did graduate.

To all of the rejects of the world, I have some good news: you can make it in the game of life anyway.

A Harvard education might open more doors to success on the job, and you may or may not feel better about yourself, after all, the competition at Harvard looks pretty stiff.

I got into Michigan State because if you lined all of the incoming Class of 1966 at Harvard for a middle distance race and fired a gun, I would probably have been first across the finish line. So there you have it, talents differ.

While the tree was talking big to a squirrel about how unimpressive he was, the squirrel replied that maybe he was not as big and strong as the tree, but neither could the tree crack a nut.

Here are three facts about Harvard that impress me and I believe them to be true:

1)  Harvard is recognized as the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Harvard was founded in 1636 and celebrates its 371st anniversary this year (375th in 2011).

2)  Harvard was the first organization in the country to become a legal corporation. This fact really surprised me because I thought it would have been a business, not an educational institution.

3)  Harvard has an endowment of $29+ billion (not million, billion). That is a lot of cash invested that allows it to help a lot of students who would not otherwise attend Harvard even though they might qualify.

I graduated from Michigan State University 41 years ago this June (45 years ago in 2011). Had I paid for my college education it would have cost me approximately $12,000, and I graduated without any student loans.

The cost of an education for the Class of 2011 at Harvard will be more than $182,000. Someone will pay that cost. I sure am glad it is not going to be me.

Online Hiring Threatens to Do Away With Traditional Hard Copy Resumes – Is It Really True? (Part 1 of a 4-Part Series)

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

The presentation of this story in my Wednesday daily newspaper is dramatic.

A smaller headline in color above the main headline says “Digital Job Searches Gain Ground”.

The main headline says “Straight to the Waste Basket” and shows a picture up top of a resume folded like a paper airplane headed presumably for a wastebasket (if you are wondering, wastebasket is one word, not two).

Is it really true? Well, I guess that depends on who you are talking to and what advice you choose to believe.

The story—and I use the word story rather than article because I believe most of the story is make believe—makes some observations and assumptions that are without substance in fact.

“Instead of reading your resume,” says Daine Stafford of The Kansas City Star, “an employer might ask you to fill out an online form or take an online test that measures how well you fit the job, based on responses from successful workers.”

That is an observation and at least the first part of it is correct, that more and more employers are asking for an email version of a resume rather than the traditional hard copy (printed) version we have used in recent decades.

Stafford says “Google, for example, uses a screening program to measure applicants’ attitudes, behaviors, personality and biographical details. Answers are scrunched in a formula that creates a score, indicating how well the candidate is likely to fare on the job.”

Fair enough, Google probably does so if Stafford says so.

I have often wondered what a screening question like “Which would you rather be: 1) a monkey, 2) a bear, 3) a tiger, or 4) a kangaroo?” actually tells human resources about a person’s personality that they could not better find out by interviewing them.

If you get the impression that interviewers are personnel types who are lazy in the hiring process, you might be right. Anything to get them to the point where they have nothing to do but push paper around, and look important and arrogant in the process (like I have mine, screw you).

Stafford continues: “It’s all electronic,” said Michael Doyle, a 60-year-old job seeker from Prairie Village, Kan. (sic), who recently landed a job through personal contacts. In nine months, Doyle said, he’s spoken to exactly two interviewers as a result of online postings.”

My guess is that Doyle may have submitted an email version of his resume to dozens, if not hundreds, of online destinations.

I could have told Doyle that probably 60% of all hiring is contacts, knowing people in the workplace or knowing people who know people in the workplace. Yes, it helps to have qualifications, but it helps more to have qualifications and know someone who wants to help you.

Reading about Doyle’s experience might lead me to conclude that online posting is not the best method to proceed here given the results. No wonder hiring is so screwed up.

From this and another example, Stafford then draws the conclusion that the applicants “discovered that resumes have gone digital.”

She goes on to say “In some cases, resumes have disappeared from the hiring process completely. Some employers don’t even want them in digitized format. They prefer customized online forms, tailor-made to cull the applicant field.”

Again, anything to make it easier on personnel types, we certainly would not want to put them out for even a minute of their precious time.

From the input of experiences of two applicants this conclusion comes bursting forth as implied truth that a new paradigm has taken place in the America business of hiring.