From MTV comes the tale of 17-year-old Siobhan O’Dell. O’Dell is in the process of applying to colleges for next year. She recently suffered the disappointment of receiving a rejection letter from Duke University. Most teens in O’Dell’s position would drown their sorrows with something tasty and commiserate with friends, but O’Dell chose a different approach for coping with her rejection. She drafted a letter rejecting Duke’s rejection of her application and then sent it to the admissions office.
O’Dell’s rejection of her rejection letter, originally posted on her Tumblr with the hashtag, “I can’t believe I actually sent this”, follows the same format as your standard college rejection letter. It reads in part:
This year I have been fortunate enough to receive rejection letters from the best and brightest universities in the country. With a pool of letters so diverse and accomplished I was unable to accept reject letters I would have been able to only several years ago.
Despite Duke’s outstanding success in rejecting previous applicants, you simply did not meet my qualifications. Therefore, I will be attending Duke University’s 2015 freshman class.
On its face, there’s nothing wrong with drafting the letter to deal with the disappointment of not getting into a college you hoped to attend. Writing is a valid form of therapeutic expression and a healthy way to process emotions. Even posting the letter to Tumblr with hopes of finding support from the internet is a logical step for today’s teens, where social media plays a big part in day to day life.
But sending the letter to Duke’s admissions office takes a jaw-dropping amount of confidence most 17-year-olds lack. I’m almost twice O’Dell’s age and I can’t even bring myself to send the strongly worded email I have in my drafts regarding the rude customer service rep I talked to at the cable company last week.
While the ultimate happy ending would be for Duke to come back with a letter applauding O’Dell’s determination and offering her a full scholarship, sadly, that didn’t happen. Duke took the time to respond to O’Dell’s letter, with a gentle rejection to her rejection of their rejection letter. The full text of their response can be read here. In their response, Duke reaffirms their decision not to extend an invitation to O’Dell for next year’s freshman class and outlines the official steps she would need to take in order to have her application reevaluated. They basically tell her not to bother trying though, pointing out that in the past ten years they have received 500 requests for review and overturned their initial rejection only four times.
O’Dell is taking this latest development in stride. According to her Tumblr, she’s accepted a spot in USC’s 2015 freshman class where she will undoubtedly find success while continuing to speak her mind.