As high school seniors across the country anxiously wait for college acceptance—or rejection—letters, the Wall Street Journal offers a glimpse at a few success stories who received the dreaded thin envelope:
- Warren Buffett: Though his rejection from Harvard Business School was “crushing” at the time, it “turned out for the better” when it prompted him to go to Columbia, says the investor. “You learn that a temporary defeat is not a permanent one. In the end, it can be an opportunity.”
- Meredith Vieira: She was also turned away from Harvard—but it led her to enter TV journalism when she found a mentor at Tufts.
- Ted Turner: “'I want to be sure to make this point: I did everything I did without a college degree,” says the entrepreneur who was rejected by both Princeton and Harvard.
- Tom Brokaw: “The initial stumble”—being turned down by Harvard—“was critical in getting me launched,” as well as getting him to stop partying and get serious, he says.
- Lee Bollinger: The Columbia University president, once turned down by Harvard, counsels rejected students: To “allow other people's assessment of you to determine your own self-assessment is a very big mistake.”
- Harold Varmus: Not only was he rejected—twice—by Harvard’s medical school, he was advised by one of the deans there to join the military. He went on to become a Nobel laureate in medicine. “The differences between colleges that seem so important before you get there will seem a lot less important once you arrive at one that offered you a place,” he says.
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