Every single college admission and scholarship win represents a monumental success. When I graduated high school and went through this process I remember adults telling me, "Phew! I'm glad I went through this back when, I wouldn't want to have to apply now, it's so much more competitive these days..." Now I know just how they felt. The institution of higher education I know best is UCLA. I took three degrees there, taught there for eleven years, served on Alumni scholarship committees and as president of the largest regional alumni group. And there is no way I would want to be one of the 100,000 talented, highly motivated young people who were competing for the opportunity to become Bruins next fall. I've been sitting on pins and needles waiting for Admission Day* (*I've actually been doing this for every admission day, whether it's Cal, Brown, San Francisco Art Institute, Princeton, Hawaii, Georgetown, the Des Moines School of Putting Really Large Things on Top of Really Small Things, or wherever else your dreams/goals are taking you. Even USC.)
So yesterday was the moment for wanna-be Bruins. I was sitting in my living room with Kenn Heller (UCLA's Associate Dean of Students & Assistant Director of Innovation) yesterday evening, and we were having such a good time that I'd forgotten the date. Then, around six, he pulled out his phone and said, "Huh-- the admissions portal opened about an hour ago."
And less than an hour later I heard from Bernardo and Lizbeth that they were admitted. I couldn't be prouder or happier for them. Even if you've never met Bernardo, one glance at his blog will tell you how much this means to him. Congratulations to you both, and congratulations to all the seniors whose dreams are beginning to take shape.
One more thing. Champions don't always win. UCLA has more sports championships than any other university, but last night they got pounded by Minnesota in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. (Maybe Minnesota was still motivated by lost opportunity-- their phones lines went down when they were trying to hire John Wooden, so he didn't get the call, took the UCLA job, and won ten championships.) If you haven't gotten into your first-choice school, or if next year feels more ominous than promising, keep your head up. Character, value, and legacy aren't created by winning on a given day-- they are created by how we learn from and respond to the wins and losses of a lifetime.
I'm honored to be a small part of your journeys and on days like this it's especially exciting. Once again, congratulations to you all, and to Bernardo & Lizbeth: Go Bruins!