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Sunday, August 2, 2015


I've largely spent my whole life in a formal educational environment.  Student, teacher, administrator, and still maintain an office on the Manoa Campus of the University of Hawaii.  As I observe outstanding people in our society, I've noted that the most successful are not necessarily the ones that graduate from our top schools.

To kick off this subject, let me quote Frank Bruni from TIME magazine on how to get into the best universities:

Determined to get into one of the dozen or so most selective institutions of higher learning in America? I’m sorry to break the news, but your odds have never been worse. Unless you’re the winner of a national science contest, a Bolshoi-ready dancer, a surfing legend, a stoic political refugee from a country we really loathe, a heroic political scion from a country we really love, or Malia or Sasha Obama— and, of course, you have perfect scores on every standardized test since the second grade—your visions of getting into, say, Stanford would more correctly be termed hallucinations.

He purposefully singled out Stanford because in the spring of 2014 it established a new extreme in exclusiveness, accepting only 5.1% of 42,167 applicants for the Class of 2018.  I wasn't able to get the percent acceptance rate in 1958 when I enrolled, but this number was as high as 20% in the 80's.

One of the dangers of attending the very best schools is that the competition is fierce.  There are too many other smart students around, and while you might have been #1 at your high school, the odds are that you will become mediocre in this competition.  Annually an average of 5,000 young people commit suicide and more than 400,000 make serious attempts.  It's only logical that the higher suicide rates occur in our best universities because of the stress caused by failure.  Mind you, there are contrasting views that the greater cause of these suicides are more closely related to untreated psychological illnesses.

Bruni had a March article in the New York Times suggesting that many are better off not being thrown into that manic mix:

He cites two students who came from good high schools with excellent credentials who nevertheless failed to get into any Ivy League school.  They were crushed, but went to secondary institutions and found that they could compete well, thus enhancing their ability to compete in the real world.  What I gained most from Stanford had nothing to do with learning anything academic or establishing close personal relationships.  I gained something called confidence.  

The key thing is to recover from  fiascos, washouts and nonperformance, and gain resiliency and determination to succeed.  This occurs in your everyday life, and strikes you daily on a university campus.  So it doesn't matter where you went to college.  Everyone experiences failures. Here are some examples on how to succeed in life:

I can go on, but don't get me wrong.  Don't look for failure.  Failure will happen, and successful people recover by doing all the above and more.  Certainly, you don't need to go to college to succeed.  However, if you're average, keep in mind that the average person with a college degree will make a million dollars more than a high school graduate.  Also, if you don't graduate from high school, you will make a quarter million less than a high school graduate...and, if you earn an advanced degree, you stand to make an additional million dollars over those with a bachelor's degree.  Finally, gaze at this unemployment comparison:

First, the most important storm is not approaching Hawaii, but heading for northern Taiwan.  To become Super Typhoon Soudelar is now at 120 MPH, but will strengthen:

Hurricane Guillermo is at 90 MPH, but should weaken and move into the Hawaiian Islands:

But computer models continue to be spread:


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