Dear Penn Applicants,
I found it a pleasure interviewing you all and, indeed, I was quite impressed with both your level of maturity and motivation. If I had my druthers, the admissions committee would accept you all. But, unfortunately, that is not a high likelihood given the low ratio of accepted applicants to total applicants. Penn is a lot harder to get into now than it was when I applied back in 1963 for a number of reasons, two of which are: 1) Since the time I applied, the number of people applying to college has increased significantly and 2) Over the years, for a variety of reasons, Penn has become more popular resulting in a large increase in applicants.
Whether you are accepted to Penn or not, I believe each of you have the foundation to achieve success in the future. Let me offer a few suggestions that you may find helpful in guiding you through the next stage of your life’s journey. As you begin to develop a value system, keep an open mind on opinions that you may find difficult to accept. You may even consider befriending classmates that come from backgrounds that you have not experienced and, accordingly, think very differently than you do on the issues of the day. Unfortunately, our current leaders, on both sides of the fence, are not good role models regarding their ability to listen and empathize with the other side.
Try not to fall into the trap of holding fast to an idea without understanding the other side on a deeper level, where in fact, one’s background may play an important part. This is becoming harder and harder for young people like yourself to do due to the massive amount of information offered by the Internet, much of which can be of false origin. Hopefully, whichever college you choose to attend, you will feel comfortable listening to and expressing your ideas. I very much agree with what Former UC President Clark Kerr said about the University: “We are here not to make ideas safe for students but to make students safe for ideas.” This type of academic atmosphere allows the free exchange of ideas you or others may find either agreeable or disagreeable.
You will meet your obstacles, roadblocks, disappointments and failures. It is part of the human condition that none of us can avoid. If you do fail at a task such as not getting accepted to Penn, view it merely as a task and nothing more. That is to say you are not a failure for failing on a task. I promise you will face many more challenges in the future, great if you succeed on any one of them, but if you don’t succeed, not the end of the world.
Please feel free to let me know where you have chosen to go when you do receive word, I believe sometime in April, from the colleges you have applied and best of luck in all of your futures.