Rejected! But…

As part of my trip down memory lane this past weekend, I came across a lot of papers, photos, and other mementoes I had saved from 35-45 years ago. Looking at them again brought back a lot of good memories, as well as some not so good.

The good ones were pictures of my wife to be, my college friends and teammates, and flyers from various events I had attended.

A couple of the bad ones are shown below:

As you can see, I had wanted to enroll in an MBA program immediately after graduating from college, and I must have had a pretty high opinion of myself as well, based on where these rejection letters are from.

I knew what the average age of the entering class was at Harvard and Stanford (mid to late 20s), and how many years of business experience they had on average (4-8 years), but I thought I could be an exception. I was just 21 years old and had zero years of experience.

I knew it was going to be a long shot, but I was still quite disappointed when I did not get accepted. As nice as the letters are, I did not find much comfort in the words used by the admissions office that tried to let me down easy.

But looking back on these letters from almost 40 years ago makes me realize that the letters were part of the journey that led me to where I am today. I ended up getting a great education at Carnegie-Mellon’s MBA program (and where I quickly learned to lower my opinion of my academic ability), taking a job at Prudential, and then going back to Drexel University for my PhD a year later.

Who knows how different life may have been if Harvard or Stanford had accepted me. Would my relationship with my future wife have survived two years being so far apart from each other if I had gone to Stanford? Would I have fallen in love with Boston and wanted to move there (not likely; I was, and still am, a loyal Philly boy, but you never know).

So those rejections were all part of the journey that led me on a path to where I am today. A great marriage, three wonderful children, awesome friends and neighbors, and a rewarding career.

If the blow to my ego from being rejected by Harvard and Stanford was the price to pay for the life I have had, then it was well worth it.

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