Editorial: Fortune favors the brave

Editorial Board

Last month, a small spate of content in The New York Times, which included two opinion pieces and a news article, dealt with top colleges’ ability to incorporate less privileged students into their student bodies. The timing, of course, was no surprise, as the Ivy Leagues made their admissions offers at the end of last week.

In a news article, The New York Times wrote, “Better Colleges Failing to Lure Talented Poor.” The writer of one op-ed lamented the fact that most “talented rural poor kids” do not attempt to get into top colleges in “The Ivy League Was Another Planet.” Another writer (in “A Simple Way to Send Poor Kids to Top Colleges”) related the results of an experiment in which “high-achieving, low-income students” received extensive information about highly selective colleges and universities. The study found 30 percent of students who did not receive admissions packets gained admission into such colleges, but 54 percent of students who did receive admissions packets gained admission into such colleges.

We could not help but remember our own experiences with college applications and the heartbreak attached to not gaining a seat in the freshman class of whatever university, even though it was a long shot for our credentials to merit. Even after a few (or, for a couple of us, several) years, the rejection letters still sting. Indeed, we went on to feel comfort in the fact that those days are behind us — until, that is, we considered applications for graduate schools, summer jobs and, in the case of graduating seniors, real-life, adult jobs that we’ll need to pay the bills.

The world, it seems, is a scary place.

That said, all is not lost. The sun rises every morning in the East, and it sets in the West. Winter, spring, summer and fall all come and go, and come and go and come again and go again. Even if we don’t get into the schools or careers we want, there are other schools and other careers.

As uplifting as those realizations are, however, one thing above all others gives us hope for the future — ourselves. People, if they so desire, have the distinct opportunity to improve themselves and their civilizations.

As summer (and the future) approaches and we seek jobs and schools with increasing vigor, it would be easy to forget the thrill of finding something that might be out of our reach but pursuing it anyway. The thrills that go along with making ourselves qualified for a job or admissions letter are equaled to only the thrill of trying — actually trying, not sending in an application on a whim — to get an offer of employment or admission when we know that no reason exists for the human resources manager or admissions officer to give our resume a second look. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, it is said.

Change can be sudden, revolutionary and disruptive, or it can be conservative, evolutionary and allow for a great deal of continuity. Either way, the end result is the same: We have traveled from Point A to Point B. Change is also a fact of life. The question then, is, why would we not want to be the agents of change, rather than its recipients? Fortune favors the brave.