Getting in, Not Getting In, and “Ch ch ch changes…”

Maybe because it’s nearly the end of one year and the beginning of another, but I got change on the brain. 

Actually, maybe it’s because I am writing this post from São Paulo. It’s my first time back since I was here nearly two years ago – I know it was this time of year because I remember the same fake Christmas trees set up in the middle of jungle-like parks. I’ve been seeing firsthand how much LogicPrep Brazil has changed: what was once the proverbial gleam in in our eyes has become a fully-functioning office in the swank neighborhood of Jardins, with an amazing group of students. 

Then again, maybe I’m thinking about change because it’s finally the start of college admission season. 

Yup. That’s it. 

Working hard with so many smart, soulful, and understandably nervous kids on their applications makes me think about the great changes ahead for all our students. Some of them have just found out they got into their Early Decision dream schools (yay!) and the previously formless vision of the next four years has acquired some shape. Others have been deferred or even rejected…and it sucks. It can feel like a verdict on the application, or worse, the student him or herself (side note: it’s not! You never know what the balance in the room was as they were making the decisions!).

But in either case, students facing this moment of change sometimes ask me for my advice. I think they imagine my thinking about the two above scenarios – getting or not getting in – must be radically different. 

It’s not. 

College is a big deal…but so much of it is what you make of it. You can get into the school of your dreams, but that ticket in is not the experience. Not even close. What you do with your four years is. There is no class or professor so magical that it can change the fundamental truth that you will only get as much out of a class as you put in it. Similarly, there is no college so far off your itinerary that you can’t make it your dream school - through the classes you take, the books you read, the conversations you allow yourself to be open to, the clubs you join, the clubs you maybe even start.

Whatever school you go to, you will meet people who change your life. You will make friends, some of whom will last your lifetime. You will take courses in subjects you never imagined and they will change you – at first just a little, and eventually a lot. If you’re doing college right – any college – how you look at some aspect of the world or some part of yourself is going to change. 

And that’s the way it should be – for college and life too. 

And finally, if you don’t recognize the lyric quoted in this post’s title, my other advice is you immediately download all of David Bowie’s music from, say, 1970 to 1980. We lost him too soon this year, but he and his music can inspire everyone to fearlessly embrace change!