Tip #2: Don’t Quit
This tip is from my Special Report written for recent high school graduates. It is also relevant to most adults. (Make that all adults.)
The facts in this article are 100% true and yes, I did get into Notre Dame. Read on with a low class rank and an even lower SAT Score.
Many Americans seem to have been stricken with the disease “quit-itis.” I think it may have something to do with expecting “instant gratification.” We have become impatient as a rule and we want and expect things now.
Patience is indeed a virtue. That being said, I’ve never been in favor of driving down a dead-end street, hoping that by sheer persistence it would turn into a highway. There will be times when the deck is stacked against you, and you’ll have to try a new strategy or take a new road. Yes, sometimes you will find yourself in a situation that is worth “quitting.” Sometimes, it is in your best interest to pack your tent and try a different path (career.)
But, (and this is a huge “but”) make certain that you have done everything in your power before “turning the page” and moving onto the next chapter in your life. Always take personal inventory before making the final decision to call it a day. The truth is I even have trouble typing that word … quit.
Persistence positions you as a person who knows exactly what he or she wants and is willing to work for. You are not showing aggressiveness, but rather firmness and an acceptable form of tenacity. The majority of people quit after an initial rejection. They give up. They find an excuse they feel comfortable with. They go away. They accept initial rejection as their fate. This is no way to position yourself as the winner you are. Persistence delivers a clear message that you are serious and not to be taken lightly. Persistence is not to be confused with being pushy, arrogant, obnoxious, or demanding. I believe it was Thomas Edison who reminded us that:
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas A. Edison
This message will become clear to you once I share a true story of how I gained entry into the University of Notre Dame against all odds. I believe my story will serve you well as you move forward in life.
In the fall of my high school senior year, my guidance counselor asked me what college(s) I was planning to apply to. At the time, college had not entered my thinking, and I was caught off guard by the question. My guidance counselor (Mr. Zuckerman) suggested that it might be a good idea if I discussed this important aspect of my future with my parents.
On the following Saturday afternoon, I mentioned to my mother that it was time for me to apply to college. She too asked me where I was planning to spend the next four years of my life. It was at that very moment when I glanced down at the television set and saw a football game in progress. The University of Notre Dame was playing Southern California. I had just found my answer. Isn’t it funny how you can arrive at important decisions while watching TV? (NOT!)
Since athletics was my primary interest at the time, I informed my mother that I would be applying to the University of Notre Dame the following fall. Obviously at the time, I did not know how these things worked. She quickly responded, “Notre Dame is as good as any school. I’ll take a small sweatshirt.”
Not many good decisions come from watching TV.
On the following Monday, I had a meeting with old man Zuckerman, and I told him that the answer to his question the previous week was: The University of Notre Dame. I can still hear his laughter wafting through the halls while he dried his eyes. I saw no humor in my educational selection. After all, it was my future that was at stake, and they did manage to beat Southern Cal.
The “Zuckster” quickly informed me that my SAT scores were a tad better than awful and my class rank wasn’t much better. He suggested that I consider applying to a couple of local community colleges before possibly transferring to another local community college. I was beginning to get the message.
Upon returning home that evening, my mother asked me if I had applied to the University of Notre Dame; at which time I informed her that my guidance counselor’s professional opinion was that I was not smart enough to become an alumnus of the “Fighting Irish.”
With a confused look on her face my mother asked if guidance counselors held the trump card when it came to accepting or rejecting high school applicants to the freshman class of Notre Dame or any other institution of higher learning? When I told her I didn’t think so, she told me to apply to the university myself and wait to see what actually resulted from my efforts.
Reluctantly, I filled out the application to Notre Dame anticipating a negative response. I was not disappointed. When the mail eventually arrived with the Notre Dame seal in the upper left-hand corner, I was braced for the worse. I gently tore into the envelope.
As many of you know, the two seconds it took to open the envelope seemed like an eternity. I began to read.
“Dear Mr. Marchev, Upon reviewing your SAT scores and your class ranking, the Acceptance Committee unanimously feels that matriculation at the University of Notre Dame is not in your future. We thank you for your application, but respectfully suggest that you investigate a bunch of local community colleges in the New Jersey vicinity. We are sure you will find one more conducive to your academic accomplishments.” (Ouch!)
(Matriculation? What the heck does matriculation mean? This place was beginning to sound like Harvard, Yale or Brown.)
I remember sharing my rejection notice with my mother suggesting that my Mr. Zuckerman did indeed know his “counseling” business. To which she immediately directed me to “Sit down and write what I tell you.” I sent a letter off to the University of Notre Dame that afternoon politely asking for a second review. In the letter, I remember mentioning that I was a “good boy” and that I was particularly fond of the little green Irishman logo on the sleeves of every football player. (Not really!)
“Sit down and write what I tell you.”
About six weeks later, I received a second envelope embossed with the Golden Dome and some fancy imprint that reminded me that I was indeed dealing with green elves with clenched fists. Once again, I was informed that the selection committee was refusing to lower their standards. (Matriculation? Give me a break!) But, and this was a huge “but,” they did go on to say that they would reluctantly place my name on a “long” waiting list since word on the street was that I was a “nice boy.” They then applauded my persistence.
I was genuinely excited upon hearing this news, but apparently my mother was not. She once again told me in no uncertain terms “Sit down and write what I tell you.” She suggested I ask for a third review since Notre Dame was my university of choice, and that they would not be sorry if they “lowered the bar” just this once. I remember writing the words sweatshirts, homecoming game and Regis Philbin. (Kidding again!)
I’m assuming by this time that you have guessed the final outcome. Another few weeks passed before I received a third letter from the University of Notre Dame welcoming me to the class of 1971. A low class rank coupled with even lower SAT scores attached to a sincere and genuine desire to attend the University of Notre Dame resulted in a positive outcome. (Kind of. See Epilogue below)
My message is true and should be clear. If executed properly, professionally, and with sincerity, a second … third … fourth … and even fifth attempt at accomplishing your goal is definitely worth your time and effort. This strategy will not always work for you, but it is definitely worth a shot. In my case, it resulted in overcoming, what seemed to be at the time, impossible odds.
Epilogue: I never did buy that sweatshirt for my mom and I never did go to Notre Dame. At the last minute, I decided to accept a full-athletic scholarship to another Division 1 school that was more interested in me as an asset, and not just a persistent pain in the ass. This lesson will never be forgotten, and I hope you read it again:
Don’t quit until you feel it is in your best interest to do so.
|This is just one of the tips Mike Marchev offers High School Graduates who are preparing to enter a world that does not care if they succeed or fail. Do your son, daughter, niece, nephew or next-door neighbor a favor by presenting them with their own copy of 21 Life Changing Tips For The College Bound High School Graduate.
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