Do you think the world is harder today than it was ten, twenty, thirty years ago? One thing is certain, it is different. The landscape of the world has changed a bit. We live in more of a global marketplace than ever before. Medicine and technology have improved dramatically. Competition for entry into the highest selective colleges in the world has increased. It is an economics problem. The number of movies produced, sports teams assembled, and colleges all remains the same as thirty years ago. The difference is the increase in demand for the relatively small supply. There are a lot of starving actors, musicians and athletes. There are many high school students who dream of entry into an Ivy League college or highly selective university. So what’s holding them back? Competition. It’s fierce. The world is like an athletic tryout.
Once upon a time, high school sophomore Michael Jordan did not make the varsity basketball team. He was passed over for a taller kid, about 10 inches taller, and in basketball height can seem to matter. How did Michael Jordan respond to not being selected to varsity?
According to an article about Michael Jordan’s career he obviously wasn’t happy. The article stated that Jordan said he was “embarrassed” by not making the team with there being players that he felt he out-performed. Regardless, he would go on to star on the JV team and had several 40 point games that season.
Jordan would also show his intense work ethic even at this stage of his career, regularly showing up to his school gym before classes to practice. He would go on to hit a growth spurt and make the varsity his final two years in high school.
The rest we know about.
Anyone who has ever taken their children or participated in athletic try outs learn first hand how the world works. It is an early glimpse and preview of how competitive this world is.
Too few spots available. A common economics problem of supply and demand. Not enough spots on the team breeds survival of the fittest mentality.
Parents and players jockeying for attention, stepping up their game and maximizing the opportunities to show off their skills, hoping to do something big or make that play while the coaches are watching. Some kids are cut after the first day of try outs, some are cut along the way. Then that last group of cuts, which seems to cut the deepest as those kids were as close as you can get to making the team without actually making the team.
The self-doubt and “If only I had done this” or “if only I was given more of an opportunity to do more of that” and the “why didn’t I make it when so and so made it and I am better than they are”.
It all comes with the territory.
The hurt feelings, the wounded egos, the tears of disappointment and feeling of rejection and realization that maybe I am just not good enough.
In fact, this character tester often is what pushes kids to move on, give up, and shift their attention to other things. Parents feel every bit and sometimes more of the same feelings their kids experience. They see from the sidelines what is happening. They see that some of the parents, friends and boosters to the leagues and the schools, jockeying for their sons and daughters to make the teams and grab those precious roster spots. Other parents see the players that have already made the team from prior years not having to participate in as many of the drills and are less evaluated than the other players competing for the fewer opportunities. Other parents see their kids not getting the playing time to prove themselves and show off their skills. Some kids have fire in their eyes, others fear. The kids go out there and battle, or they don’t. And those that do battle and do get moments to shine, may earn that roster spot and live to fight another day. Eventually all the team roster spots are filled. All families must deal with the inevitable reality.
Fast forward to college and the same things happen for those wanting to get into college and into jobs. The same battle ensues.
Getting Into College
College acceptance rates to the most competitive schools can be under ten percent. There are college admission departments that follow strategic enrollment objectives that may need to keep male/female ratios equal, may need to enroll more minorities or first generation college students. This strategic objective may supersede intangible qualities such as extracurricular activities and tangible qualities such as test scores and class rank. In life they say there is usually more than meets the eye. This is the case with college admissions. Sports tryouts are typically built on one primary thing – winning. In the college admissions landscape, winning is attained by meeting the enrollment objectives of the school.
Getting The Big Job
When it comes to getting a good job the competition can be tough. Potentially dozens or even hundreds of applications for the few positions that companies have open.
The odds may be one in one hundred or one in one thousand.
Resume screening may start by a computer program scanning for key words to confirm minimum qualifications. Then someone in a human resources department evaluates what qualitative and quantitative skills may be outlined on paper. And for those that make the short stack of candidate resumes an invitation to a first interview occurs. The first interview may actually just be a screening, by phone, answering basic questions for five to fifteen minutes. Then if those answers meet the minimum criteria a formal interview will be scheduled.
The interview may take place on the college campus or it may be required to venture over to the company premises.
Having experienced rejection in the past begins to somewhat prepare you for the present. That is actually a good thing. They call it getting thick skin. Getting okay with some rejection.
The “whatever is to be, will be” mantra is repeated as you walk out of the interview session questioning some of your answers or non-answers.
But does it have to be this way?
Isn’t there something different that could have been done to put you into the best possible position to succeed, right here, right now?
The answer is yes. Absolutely yes.
Take Action And Make It Happen
One of the most awesome things about life is that we can take action. Use your access to people, to teachers, to education, to training, to certification, to technology, to jobs and get the experience you need.
There are those naturally gifted and those that must work for it. The key is to understand where you stand. Hard work and determination will often times beat talent. Talent is a wonderful thing when combined with hard work and follow through. But history has showed us a lot of wasted talent and people not willing to do what it takes to be successful with the skills and talents they have been blessed with. Those that achieve success are the ones who recognize what it takes to succeed. Work longer, work harder, study more, learn new ways of doing something, do what others are not willing to do, sacrifice in ways others are not willing.
It is not the college you go to that will determine your life success. It is how you go to college that will. Recognize this and you have understand that you are already equipped with what is necessary to go make something happen. The college degree is just the beginning. The college experience is a foundation to what you will become.
It is important to be sure you pick a best fit college and factor financial impact. You do not want to start life with a high debt burden to attend a high priced college. It is prudent to consider least cost approach for the undergraduate degree. Spend more energy on the what’s next beyond the undergraduate.
Identify what is next and then work to make that happen. Whether it be graduate or professional school or a job. The main thing is to maximize the opportunities as they come. Don’t sit back and fly under the radar unless that is what you want to do with you life. That is fine, just understand where the ceiling is and be completely okay with it. There is nobility in appreciating a planned path – and achieving it.