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.



The Soul of Alec Smart said...

You know what's worse? Reading "Your application no. XXXX has been rejected" on a website screen. I feel like calling them up to say that a touch of regret, even superficial, would NOT have been misplaced.

Shankha said...

That said, this kind of a rejection is a lot better than the rejection we get from schools in India. We know we are rejected only when we don't see our name and/or reg no. in a list or we don't get an acceptance letter!

Nikhil Garg said...

I aint sure about rejection from varsities & jobs (I am yet doing undergrad) but yeah , meaningful explanation after break ups- LIKE !

Paul said...

I agree sunshine. It has almost become a way of life for both companies(and people) to cut it short and take the easy way out, rather than say something that will genuinely benefit the person at the receiving end. It is indeed sad that those who convey such messages don't really care about the recipient and they use politeness as a mask to cover it all up.

Rakhi said...

I totally agree with this post. When I had applied to graduate school in USA, some time in 2006 and got rejected by all the universities that I actually wanted to go to (I was selected by one but I rejected that.) I was so thoroughly pissed that despite having wasted almost 75000 rs from my hard earned money, these universities don't even take the trouble of letting me know what actually was my shortcoming...Because it could have helped me if I wanted to apply again...Or at least some friend of mine who would apply later.
It is MOST inconsiderate not to personalize rejections.
And, about relationships - the less said the better. Human beings are of the category where they have to tow the middle path. They'll want to be adventurous knowing fully well that their constitution is too effing weak to take it. But the fun part is they are also too effing busy consoling themselves with arguments like 'he/she is too wild for me.' to actually stand up to the truth.

Ahem, very long comment..And it's getting longer. :P Hope you're doing fine Sunshine.

于名于名 said...

may the blessing be always with you!! ........................................

silcador said...

sunshine said...

TSoAS- I totally agree with you !!

Shankha- Oh yes totally. I didn't think of Indian rejections when I wrote this post. They are far far worse, I agree.

Nikhil- hehe, me likes it too, not that it makes things any easier, but still.

Paul- Exactly my point. After all the involvement with the application process, getting a half hearted NO really hurts.

Rakhi- Am very sorry to know about your loss dear, and I know it's not easy. Sending you an e-hug :)

Next comment- Thank you :)

silcador- Thanks so much for the link, it was a great read :)