This morning I read an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal written by a high school senior addressing all the colleges that rejected her. You’ve read it too, right? If not you can read it here. Recently it’s been hard to read a paper, magazine, or my favorite blog without coming across a headline reading “Gen Y: Is there anything good?” or “Gen Y: Entitled, Lazy, and Can’t Pay Attention.” As a recent college grad (just off the job-search I might add) I can’t help but find these statements offensive, and I think to myself “Where are they getting these stereotypes?” Well, thanks to Suzy Lee Weiss, I think we know now…
Really, I understand how frustrating college applications are. I even understand what it’s like to be rejected from your #1 school. Even your #2 or #3…or #5 school…especially in the face of some unquantifiable trait like “diversity.” But as a graduate from UIC, a school that boasts “diversity” before “top research institution,” I can tell you that few of the people I knew would have fit into the profile you’re describing, Ms. Weiss. And when “they” tell you to “be yourself,” they’re not kidding. Colleges need to know who you are, what you’re all about, and that you would be a good fit for their school. Not only the other way around.
So I tell you, Ms. Weiss, and all other seniors both accepted and rejected from your dream schools, be yourself. But not only that, be proud of yourself and be accountable for yourself. Keep in mind what sets you apart from everyone else. Diversity isn’t only about your race or religion or extracurricular activities – it’s about what makes you different from the other 10,000 students who applied to your college program, internship, or job. It’s not only colleges that will tell you to “be yourself.” This is a theme that you will experience for the rest of your life – I can tell you it will also be part of your job search – so get used to it.
In the meantime, I beg you, fellow Gen-Yers, to do some serious introspection before you go sending articles off to the Wall Street Journal on behalf of the rest of us.
Vicki Jurkowski is a proud member of Gen-Y and Online Marketing Analyst at Cappex. Her passions include abstract algebra, west coast swing, and reassuring Baby-Boomers that Millennials can be trusted to take over the world one day. She graduated from University of Illinois at Chicago in December 2012 with her Bachelors of Science in Mathematics.