What should I say to my dad?

I see Wisconsin on this list, but where’s Yale?

Your dad might believe that the university you attend is a report card on his intelligence genetics.


Teach Me How to Bucky!

@jinglebells85 Your dad is putting an unreasonable burden on you. You shouldn’t be hurt by his expressions of disappointment. He wants to brag. But he’s just not being thoughtful about you. Nor does he seem to realize that while you did not get into an “Ivy,” UW Madison is in the “Ivy League” of public universities. (Don’t tell him that, but it’s true!) It is one of the very best universities in the country.

You haven’t said much about your career intentions, but chances are you will be attending a professional or graduate school in a few years. “Prestige” of professional schools (such as law school, MBA) and doctoral programs matters a lot more for your career opportunities than where you earned your baccalaureate degree. But your degree from UW, combined with what you will actually learn there, the connections you will make, and your skills and experiences can qualify you for graduate programs at any university.

It’s May. In a few months you will be setting off for one of the strongest universities in the country in a great college town. I know the place well b/c I earned my graduate degree (PhD) at UW, and many members of my wife’s family, going back 100 years, attended UW. Some of them went on to distinguished careers in geology, business, law, and medicine, and a few went from BA/BS at UWis to Harvard, Columbia, and Yale for their graduate work.

You should focus your attention on all the opportunities that you will have when you enroll at UW. It is a great university.

@jinglebells85 Y’know, I always get compared to my brother too. He’s my parent’s first child, and in my culture usually the firstborns get all the love. They try to hide it, but I always knew deep inside that they preferred him over me.

The only thing I could do was smile. And proving them wrong while smiling. Suck it up, work hard to get a high GPA, build a great body, and do everything you can to improve yourself. Read books, get all the knowledge, start working part-time (it helps you forgot things), and basically be successful in your life. I know it’s hard, but it is possible.

After facing a lot of rejections, either from a girl, parents, friends, etc, I learned to believe that rejection is not my enemy, but an old friend who made me improve myself. I still know they prefer my brother over me, but I am not bothered at all since I know I am better than him.

I also faced the dilemma same as you, but mine was both parents. In my country, University of Richmond is unheard of, and my mom immediately thinks it’s a crap uni as it’s not famous. When I told my dad I got into there, he kept saying, “Why not to Boston? Like your brother?” Hit me pretty hard, but I picked myself back up, and kept going.

And Congratulations! You just faced a problem everyone will face in their lives at some point. You’re facing it earlier, so you have an advantage over others. Now you have the power to not feel so depressed when a close person disagrees/critiques your every move.

TL;DR: Just pick yourself up, and move on. No use pouting. What’s done is done. Now you have to make a game plan to move forward. It’s your life, your future. Live it and enjoy it. And remember, failures/rejection always teaches you something, and consider it a gift from life.

So sorry your dad is not being more supportive – just being a certain age does mean we adults always act with maturity and wisdom.

For what it is worth – UW will give you fabulous opportunities, and is a top notch education. My kid is there, OOS, it was his dream school, and has lived up to everything he hoped. The range of programs at UW which are in the top 20 is a very long list, from Chem Engineering, to Political Science, History, Econ, French. People who grew up on east coast and Ivy bias (including me), take some re-education to appreciate just how incredible the offerings are at some of the midwest flagships.

Sign up for SOAR, do your placement testing, and get ready to have an amazing experience. In the first semester for my kid, he had a seminar with a world-renowned leader in the field, saw Pres Obama twice, heard a band he had loved for years, and did the jump-around at Camp Randall. UW has everything you want, and more. Look forward, not back, and enjoy! Hopefully, your dad will come around at some point, but you can’t make it happen sooner.

Good luck, congrats!

I like this thread a lot - a lot of pain being shared, but a a lot of wise words about how to survive it. Here’s my 2 cents:

Pity the poor kid who jumps through every hoop that their parents set up. First it’s the 4.0 and the ‘good ECs.’ Then it’s the ‘right’ school. Next it’s the ‘impressive’ job. Then it’s the ‘right person’ for them to marry and the ‘best neighborhood’ in the ‘impressive house.’ One day, they wake up and realize that they’ve lived their entire lives conforming to the expectations of two people who say that ‘we only wanted you to be happy.’ But this kid has spent so much of his or her life conforming to someone else’s expectations of what happiness is supposed to look like that they don’t even know what makes them happy any more. And then they wonder why they feel depressed and unfulfilled.

Decide right now that you want to discover what being happy and successful means for you - not for your Dad. Clearly his definition didn’t include being a sensitive, supportive and appreciative father. Maybe you’ll make that one of your goals, right?

“Dad, every time you mention Yale I am beginning to wonder if you are disappointed in me. I am not sure if you know how much the acceptance rates have gone down over time…when you went to Yale, it was probably around 25%. Now it is 6%. And the median SAT was around 674 for Verbal and now it is 750. Would you have even gotten into Yale today? Check into University of Wisconsin, Dad…it is ranked #47 in National Universities.and is a really great value.So I would really like it if you support me instead of making remarks about other universities.”

First, Wisconsin is a great school. One of the world’s great Universities. You should be proud. A very small percentage of students are admitted to a school ranked more highly. There is no reason to feel bad about what you have achieved. Your have achieved a lot.

Second, one thing that seems to get lost in the focus on colleges is to remember that there are two things that matter significantly more important than the college you attend: choice of major, and what you do in college.

Think carefully about your choice of major. Investigate alternatives: weigh your interest, talents, employability, typical salaries, placement success, what recent grads are actually doing, and how easily you can change to another major later if your interests evolve. I think this last item, the value of the option to change your mind later, is very valuable, but ignored by most students.

The other critical subject is what you do in college. Not only academics, but other things you do such as being active in clubs, leadership positions, Greek life, internships, research experience, volunteer work, co-ops, or just building relationships. All of those things are important. Make your experience special. Try to investigate which activities interest you on campus using online resources even before you go. The earlier you get involved, the easier it will be. You can create an amazing experience at Wisconsin, you just need to reach out and grab it. Be proactive and make your next 4 years amazing. The opportunities at Madison are almost endless.

If students put a fraction of the thought into these two issues that they put into which college they would attend, they would be a lot further ahead.

Finally, don’t let your Dad shake your confidence. Believe in yourself. You can do anything, you can become anything, right from Wisconsin Madison. Wear that Bucky sweatshirt with pride.

It is what you do next that matters. What are you going to do next?

Here’s what I find sad. Clearly your dad’s self-confidence and sense of identity are wrapped up in his own attendance at Yale, even decades after graduating. If a person has to spend his adult life reminding people where he went to college in order to get their respect, and tying his own sense of self worth to where his children attend college, he probably doesn’t have a very secure sense of self. You are already demonstrating a much healthier sense of identity and self-worth at half your father’s age, so as hurtful as his behavior may be, you should be proud that you seem to be such a well-adjusted young adult. It is always hard to see flaws and weaknesses in our parents. But it is important to realize that in this case the weakness is indeed his, not yours.

This is the best advice, I think.

The only thing I would add is that when you talk to your dad about your experiences at UW, try to focus on all the positives, how great it is for you, how you’re meeting great friends, etc., etc.

No matter what you say and do, your dad may continue to be insensitive. As others have said, just smile. He doesn’t get it that it is about you, not him.

I had many friends that went to UW, and my niece is graduating from there in a few weeks - she loved it! She did two summer internships, did a study abroad in Italy, graduated on time, and has a career job.

ask him why he didn’t donate enough to Yale to ensure that you got in…

Be blunt: Dad, are you going to be disappointed in me forever that I didn’t get into Yale?

Sometimes a little teen drama can make a parent reevaluate and back off. Speaking from parental experience.

My suggestion would be to not actually discuss this with your dad. If you feel that you have to, though, here’s what I’d say:
“Dad, I just wanted to tell you what I’ve heard good parents do when their kid is rejected from some colleges and accepted at others. They never mention the rejecting ones again, and they wholeheartedly favor the college that accepted their child. They buy the t-shirt, and they talk it up to friends and relatives as a great choice and a great opportunity. They keep any regrets to themselves. Since I know you want to be a good dad, that’s what I expect from you as well.”

Considering how difficult Yale is to get into, I think your brother might face a tougher time down the road if your father is already convinced that he will get in. Some parents will never be satisfied, furthermore. If you had gotten into Yale, your father might belittle your choice of major, or your social circle, or the Greek-letter society you do or don’t join. Live and love your own life, and hope that he will ultimately want to be part of it on terms that you can agree to as an adult.

wait and see if dad comes around. if he tones down his anti-madison talk, then purchase the peelable decal for his car . if he continues with his anti-UW ranting, then it’s the unremovable badger shaped bumper sticker and you put it on for him, while making the comment greeninohio suggested.

Maybe this would help. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_University_of_Wisconsin%E2%80%93Madison_people

And the next time he disses UW, I’d be blunt. “My feelings are hurt when my choices are belitted. I think UW is a great school with lots of opportunities for me.”

Good luck with this! My own parents, for years introduced me to their friends as “the one who could have gotten a PhD from Caltech, but didn’t”.

Congratulations on knowing what you want, going for it, and getting in! You sound like a very healthy person. You’ve already gotten a lot of great advice. My 2 cents…watch out for your brother. All expectations are now on him and that could have brutal consequences. I hope your mother is familiar with signs of anxiety and depression and the 2 of you can be major roles in his support system.