Even if they missed the mark to become the Democratic nominee, each candidate has left their mark on the Democratic Party. In 2016, Bernie Sanders brought the party far closer to embracing Medicare for all than they ever had before. Andrew Yang brought significant attention to the idea of a universal basic income. And Elizabeth Warren (and Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Tulsi Gabbard) made the idea of a woman as president a little easier to imagine.
The reason this is striking a chord with me this week is because we’re now in the home stretch of the college application process for seniors. March is when the vast majority of admissions decisions come back, especially for those highly selective schools that students have been crossing their fingers for for months (or years).
Realistically, these are the schools that are most likely to say no. For many of my students, these are the first no’s they’re going to hear in the process. And as we head into what can be a more demoralizing part of the college application experience, I want to get a head start in helping my students see these no’s in a different light, not as failures but as the normal setbacks everyone faces when they try to do something big and meaningful.
There is a certain vulnerability in trying to do something and coming up short, whether running for president or applying to college. But I hope that even if the experience doesn’t turn out the way you hoped it would, you’ll still hold space for that vulnerability. Losing out on becoming the Democratic nominee for president doesn’t make Elizabeth Warren any less accomplished as a senator, professor, and advocate. In the same way, hearing no from a college you were really excited about doesn’t make you any less valuable as a student or a person.