College Rejects Who Made It Big

Famous Harvard Reject: Warren Buffett

Famous Harvard Reject: Warren Buffett

I remember applying to my dream school, then anxiously awaiting the letter. I knew it would be a good letter if it arrived in a big envelope. And if it came in a small envelope, I knew it would be a bad one.

College hopefuls around the country know this feeling. And unfortunately, many receive the small envelope, or the rejection letter, in case you are not familiar with the stereotypical acceptance or rejections letters. However, if you do receive a rejection letter, do not let it get you down or make you give up your dreams. In fact, take it as a blessing in disguise, and remember than many famous people, including Warren Buffett, Lee Bollinger, and Harold Varmus, were once rejected from their first choice schools.

Here are their stories.

1. Buffett had his heart set on attending Harvard Business School. Buffett could have said, “Okay, well, that’s that,” and given up. But he didn’t. After being rejected, he decided to apply for Columbia University’s graduate business school as a late applicant, and was accepted.

“The truth is, everything that has happened in my life that I thought was a crushing event at the time has turned out for the better,” said Buffett. Excluding health problems, all setbacks have the opportunity to teach “lessons that carry you along. You learn that a temporary defeat is not a permanent one. In the end, it can be an opportunity.”

Today, Buffett is one of the most successful investors in the world, is the primary shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway, and is currently the third wealthiest person in the world.

2. Lee Bollinger was also rejected from Harvard University when he applied. Bollinger said that being rejected confirmed his beliefs that it was up to him to define his talents and potential, and then to determine where to go with those talents.

To “allow other people’s assessment of you to determine your own self-assessment is a very big mistake,” said Bollinger. “The question really is, who at the end of the day is going to make the determination about what your talents are and what your interests are? That has to be you.”

Today, Bollinger is the university president at Columbia University. He was formerly a noted legal scholar, and influenced two Supreme Court cases regarding affirmative action in college admissions processes. Obviously, Bollinger has set his personal goals high, and has achieved them.

3. Harold Varmus is now a Nobel Prize winning scientist, and is appointed to be the Director of the National Cancer Institute. However, Varmus would never have achieved these accomplishments if he had given up after being rejected by Harvard Medical School twice, and told to enlist in the military because he was “inconstant and immature.”

Varmus applied at Columbia to study medicine, and was accepted. It turns out that Harvard was not actually the perfect school for Varmus; Columbia turned out to be his dream school.

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,” Varmus said.

The moral of these stories?

Don’t give up hope just because you do not get accepted into your first choice school. If one of the richest men in the world, a university president, and a Nobel Prize winner were rejected and found success elsewhere, why can’t you?

I think you can. Just stay positive and work on your inspiring quotes for when you too make it big!

Via MSN Money








2 Responses to “College Rejects Who Made It Big”

  1. Kate says:

    So what this article is really saying is that Harvard is everyone’s first choice, and all of its rejects go to Columbia. So Columbia grads are just the ones who weren’t good enough for Harvard! LOL


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