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Rejection Day

Susan Estrich on

If you or someone you love has just opened their email this week to find that they were rejected by their first choice for college, I got that rejection, too.

My first choice was Harvard, which was called Radcliffe in those days. I did everything I could: getting straight A's while working almost full time as a waitress and being the president of the largest region of B'nai B'rith Girls in the world.

I didn't even make the waitlist. Ditto for Brown (Pembroke) and Yale and Princeton.

The rejection letters came in the mail in those days, and you didn't even need to open them to know what was inside. If the envelope was light, it was a rejection. Acceptances weigh more.

When I looked at my pile of letters, I burst into tears. I had one fat envelope -- from my last choice school, the college I applied to only because my mother offered to type the whole thing.

Not only did Wellesley College accept me; it offered me enough grants and loans to cover almost the full cost. My parents were thrilled. I was horrified.

 

The difference between Wellesley and every other school I applied to was very simple: boys. For a girl like me, who learned to twirl a baton and do splits in the mud in a desperate and unsuccessful effort to be popular, the difference was critical.

I did not find a boyfriend at Wellesley.

I found friends for life.

I found women doing everything: running the college, chairing key departments and then going on to amazing careers.

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