Employers to Students: Transcripts Aren't Everything

March 20, 2008
By Megan Zelinsky, Clarkston, MI

Today’s high school students are taught from an early age that grade-point averages, rigorous course schedules, and college entrance examination scores are everything. They are pressured not only to be accepted into college, but into the best colleges and universities. With pressures from parents and peers, some families are willing to do whatever it takes to get their children through the Ivy League gates. To understand this educational journey, a life of sacrifice and hard work, we interviewed a young man, who dedicated his life to achieve his dreams.
Twenty-eight year old, Arthur Verona, was born to attend Stanford University. “My nursery walls were painted cardinal and white. My very first word at the humble age of seven months was appropriately, Stanford.” From the beginning of his schooling career, he knew his high goals. “My parents started my schooling at the age of two, at a special school designed for early advancement of toddlers. They knew I would be gifted after I potty-trained myself at only eighteen months,” he explained. At the age of five, his family moved to Minneapolis, the town with the most prestigious elementary school in their home state of Minnesota. He soared to the top of his class, taking classes that could stump the average high school student. “By my sixth grade graduation, I was five years ahead in math, a master at chemistry, reading at a college level, and close to fluent in Spanish, French, German, and even Latin” Arthur proudly stated. At age nine, he began the Scholar Preparatory SAT Course. This seven-year course guarantees a score of 1500 out of the 1600 SAT scale or better. The class met every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for two hours and cost the heavy sum of $4000 a year. “My parents did not care which means would achieve what I wanted. Really, I was doing them a favor. Who wouldn’t want a glorious reputation for having a successful Stanford graduate as a son? I was giving their lives meaning.” Upon entering the ninth grade as a fifteen year old, Arthur faced the reality that in order to have best chances of acceptance into his dream university, Stanford, he must make California his home state. “The closer I could be to my fellow people, the better off I would be.” Although his parents would be unable to change location again, they quickly agreed to his wish and bought an apartment right off the university campus. Arthur then moved, by himself, to begin his new life.

Now attending a high school focused on college preparation, Arthur had complete control of his life, depending only on his parents for finances. “I was a little lonely at first, but colleges won’t care if your mommy makes you hot chocolate for breakfast or your dad gives you a loving pat on the back before bedtime or if there’s anyone there to greet you when you come home… if your ‘A’ is taped to the refrigerator…if you’ve ever had a visitor…” he said, with a small laugh that quickly faded. “That doesn’t belong on any application.” A typical after school day included two hours of SAT prep, several more hours of homework. Summers were spent doing minimal amounts of volunteer work, “purely for applications,” more SAT prep, and completing summer homework assignments for the upcoming school year. “I didn’t really like the sun anyway.” He remembered. It was early in his high school career that Arthur decided that it was his true calling and favor to the world to run the top law firm in the country.

From fifth to twelfth grade, Arthur took the official SAT test a total of seven times, each time, disappointingly, only scoring within the mid to upper 1500’s. His eighth and final time proved to be the charm, however, when he received the final near, but just not perfect score of a 1595. “I was disappointed with myself, even more than my parents were. The first thing in my life I was unable to grasp—how could this test be so hard?”

However, achieving the rank of number one in his class four years running, with top SAT scores, an impeccable grade-point average, and an extremely rigorous course schedule proved to be enough. In the winter of his senior year, he received a letter recognizing his acceptance into Stanford University. “I sacrificed living with my family, having friends, watching television, being invited to a birthday party, mastering any video game, having a first crush, going to any school function, or sleeping over six hours a night. I knew it was all worth it though, it was the first time my mother and father told me they were proud of me.”

Arthur’s university life proved to be no different than that of high school, except that his talents in this new environment were considered only average, forcing him to work even harder. After ten years of college and graduate school, Arthur graduated with another impeccable record and a Jurist Doctorate title. He was now ready to get the career of his dreams, with the benefits of a hefty salary and a perfect life. “I thought, no problem, employers will be fighting to have me.”

The day after graduation, he went off into the world, applying to the top law firms across the country and the world, gaining many interviews very quickly. The acceptance never came. “I had countless interviews, each employer was so intimidated by my application, they couldn’t wait to meet with me.” None of the interviews were followed with a second. “I got a lot of rejections, ‘you’re just not what we are looking for at this time,’ ‘we do not feel our firm will accommodate your desires,’ ‘there are unfortunately other applicants who fit our need better.’ I wasn’t right for any of them”

Arthur remained unemployable. He now lives back in his disappointed and angry parents house, working behind the grease fryers of the town’s hotspot fast food restaurant, Fat Boy’s. “They tell me that if I continue my hard work and become more customer friendly I might get to work the drive-through window.”

When asked what went wrong with Arthur’s plan that he worked so hard to achieve, he replied, “I guess what I never learned in any of my schoolings is that employers actually want their employees to have a personality and actual experience with social interactions.” Although his parents tried desperately to find some sort of class to teach their failure son such lessons, offering top dollar, they realized that such classes don’t actually exist. “We just don’t understand what kind of society we live in. If hard work and money can’t get you what you want, what can?” his parents commented. “I’ll conquer this world yet.” Arthur finally stated, “if only I could get that promotion.”

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