Monday, March 29, 2010

It was never about you, but the answer is still a NO

Prospective students who apply to multiple graduate schools in the US get a bunch of acceptances and rejections. I have been one such applicant who has received a bunch of rejects this year, and have a basic problem with the way the rejection letters are framed.

You see, rejection in the very first place is upsetting, be it from a boy friend, a job, or a school. You research about a school, spend money and time, and invest expectations waiting to be accepted. If you have applied somewhere, it is because you want to go there. But it is understandable that not all schools can admit every applicant. What annoys me is a stiff, non-customized response they write as a rejection letter. Here take a look at the edited version of one of these:

“Many factors go into the faculty's admissions recommendations. One thing is clear, however; the competitive climate surrounding admissions into the College of XXXX - with a high number of applications and a limited number of spots available - makes it impossible for the faculty to recommend admission for many strong candidates. I hope you will not see this decision as a permanent setback, but instead continue to take seriously your professional interests in the field of XXXX and continue pursuing your ambitions for a graduate degree.”

This is the usual story about how there were many applicants and hence many strong ones could not be admitted. This doesn’t say anything about the strength of your application. Rejection should be done in a way that it makes the person being rejected feel good about himself. This idea of many strong applicants being rejected is made to make the department or the school feel good about themselves. If I have spent some $90 and 8 hours researching and applying to your school, and another $80 ordering GRE scores, TOEFL scores, transcripts, recommendations and mailing them, I might as well demand an honest explanation for being rejected. I’d much rather have a rejection letter from XYZ that reads like “We regret to inform you that you did not make it to Harvard because your GPA wasn’t good enough, your professor screwed up your recommendations, you have spent too many years fooling around, and there have been much better applicants than you are” instead of the usual “many candidates applied and we had to reject many brilliant ones”. Sorry it doesn’t tell me anything about my potential as a Harvard applicant (just for example).

The same happened at job where the manager at the beginning was beating around the bush and refused to give me an honest answer. Later I came to know that we lost revenue through clients and it wasn’t the usual crap of me not being a good fit and all that.

Breakups, don’t even ask. I think a post-breakup explanation session must be mandated for everyone. No abuses or calling names. Just sit in peace and explain things. Stop bullshitting that I was never good enough for you and it wasn’t anything about you but it was about me. If you are breaking up because your mom is giving you a hard time and asking you to choose between the two, just let me know that you are a sissy.

The next time a hear a NO, I DEMAND an explanation that makes sense.


Saturday, March 27, 2010


This has been by far the longest I have stayed away from my blog, almost risking myself the “most infrequent and dedication-less blogger” award of the year. A lot has happened ever since. After staying with G and subjecting myself to all the “andre-pandre” talk, and learning quite a bit of it in the process, my architect friend S who was leaving for India asked me to cat sit. So I moved to her house, close to my favorite lake, and the next few weeks went by cleaning kitty potty, running around the lake, reading, and deriving pleasure from the simplistic things in life. It was during one such session of my 2.8 mile jog that I get a call from the US immigration services, informing me that my visa (and my duration of stay) in the US has expired and I need to leave. Now every incident I describe here is worth a dozen blog posts, but I’ll be brief. I get myself a ticket to India, pack my bags, and in 8 days, I set out for India. That is roughly one-fourth the time I spent planning my trip to Hawaii.

So after three and a half years of my US stay, I am finally back to India since the last 48 hours. Make that another dozen worth of snobbish “US returned blogger finds India as dirty and as crowded as ever” blogs in just 2 days of my experiences here. I don’t have a fixed plan, a travel itinerary or a determined duration of stay per se, but as of now I am back to the city of joy. And no, I am not going around carrying mineral water bottles and wearing designer sunglasses to beat the heat. I have just refused step out of home.