Good evening friends. A great choice by many of you asking for the story about how I got into New York University with horrible grades in high school, and a low SAT score.
Let’s do a quick recap. Remember my father’s grading system, “F” was for Fun, “D” was for Dandy, “C” was for Courageous, “B” was for Bastard and “A” was for _ssholes. And this worked well for my confidence through Junior High. The problem was that my father died on February 3rd, 1984. This happened to have been my freshman year in High School.
My mistake in high school was maintaining my father’s unique grading system, especially being he was not there to back me up on it any longer. So between that confusion, and the chaos going on with my mother and 5 sisters when he actually died, school was the furthest thing from my mind. Things were really bad for the Smith Family back then, law suits were flying everywhere, dissension in the household, and just a lot of hostility.
I was fortunate to have met a very sweet girl in tenth grade. She’s the one my crew used to call “Sweetie”, and she was the one that almost blew up with me on the boat that my friends and I were on. Nonetheless, when I was with her, all my problems faded away. I was happy around her, and she took me away from all that chaos at home. But the relationship was skewed, we were in love with each other, but she came from a normal household with no chaos. So to her, I was just her boyfriend she was in love with. To me, she was my girlfriend that I was in love with, and also my escape from all the turmoil and chaos.
Until this day she probably never knew outside of being in love, what an important figure she was in my life as a whole. I was no ordinary teenager. I had the weight of the world on my shoulders and in my head, but just being with her removed all that in an instant. Temporarily of course, once I returned home, the _hit was hitting the fan again. Anyway, the point is I had two lives going on .
Moving on now through high school. Junior year and Senior year I didn’t give a _hit about school, and just wanted to be with my girl. Her father, who is a great man and until this day, I have great respect and affection for him, used to say, “Scott is way too intense for you. You’re too young for such intensity in your life.”. He was right. But my gal and I held the line anyway.
Now lets speed up to where everyone is applying to colleges in Senior year, and it was the topic of discussion every single day among the other kids. I saw many people running through the halls screaming with excitement about being accepted to this good school or that good school, and I had seen many people cry because they didn’t get in the colleges they wanted to attend.
Here is where my problem started. Number 1, no college was accepting me. Number 2, I didn’t even know how to fill out a college application. Now I was saying to myself, “Your dad’s grading system ain’t so good now, is it?” So, being my late father had been a very successful commercial real estate broker in NYC, colleges used to ask him to come speak and give lectures to students about the real world. One of the schools he regularly spoke at before he died was “CW Post” on Long Island where we lived. So my mother went to see the people that my father used to know there, and asked them as a favor to accept me into their college. And some of my late father’s former friends made that happen. I was admitted into CW Post on Long Island. It wasn’t a high ranking college, but it was a good college nonetheless and it has a beautiful campus.
CW Post had one caveat with me because of my disastrous high school career. They admitted me, but on probation. Meaning instead of being allowed to take 15 credits in a semester, they only let me take 9 credits to start. Now all of this ego blasting was starting to motivate me. So I took the three classes and got straight A’s through hard work. The next semester they let me take the full 15 credits, and I got straight A’s again with a 3.8 GPA. For the freshman year that was now over, I made Dean’s list. Now I was in the groove of things and for the first time in my life didn’t feel like a screw up, and that felt really good. Going on to the first semester of Sophomore year, I got straight A’s again with a 4.0 average. CW Post then approached me, and asked me to be the President of the Honor Society for the second semester in my sophomore year. Now I was giving speeches to hundreds of parents and high school students who were considering coming to CW Post.
So lets do the math. I went from starting on Probation at CW Post, to becoming their marketing spokesman to draw more students to CW Post. I felt really accomplished, I really did. So I decided to apply to the “Leonard Stern School of Business” at New York University for my Junior year, and I was accepted immediately. So I transferred to NYU. Now truth be told I still really didn’t care about school. I just wanted to prove to myself that I wasn’t the bum everyone thought I was in high school. So now I am at NYU in one of the best business schools in the country, and I was majoring in accounting.
NYU was different than most colleges. There was no real college comradery. You see, unlike schools like Penn State or Notre Dame, where the colleges dominated the towns they were located in, NYC dominated New York University. Meaning this, when I walked out of class into the street, I was just amongst all kinds of New Yorkers, not just students. There were business people walking around, lawyers, doctors, business conventions going on, and so on and so on.
Anyway, let me speed it up here. I immediately joined a fraternity when I got to NYU in order to meet people. Because NYU was so dominated by NYC, I needed to connect with students somehow. When I joined the fraternity, they asked me if I wanted to live in the fraternity house with the main guys and I said “hell yeah”. Please don’t think of a fraternity at NYU like others, it was not. Greek / Fraternity life was very mild at NYU.
Within 2 months of my first semester at NYU, I was called into the Dean’s office for poor grades and not showing up for classes very much. When I went into the office, the dean was standing up looking out the window as I sat on his couch in the same room with him, waiting for him to say something to me. So after 5 minutes of his deducing what the real story is here, he turned to me and said, “You transferred here from CW Post from their honor society. Within your first two months here, your classes are going terribly, and I am told you hardly ever go to class and you are in one of the fraternities on campus. Is that correct Mr. Smith ?”. I said, “Yes sir that is the correct.”
So he looked at me in the eyes and said” Scott, are you some sort of playboy or something? Is that why you have been so distracted?”. So I said, “Mr. Dean”, or whatever his name was, “No, I am not a playboy. I have been in a relationship with the same young lady for 5 years”. Then he asked me how I would explain such a fall from grace, since I transferred to NYU as President of the Honor Society from CW Post?
So I hit him with hardcore honesty that I don’t think he ever heard before in his life. I told him how poorly I did in high school, and how terrible I felt during my senior year while all my friends were making plans for their new experiences going off to college, and I had no options. So when I applied myself and made Dean’s list for two years at CW Post, and then got into one of the best business schools in the country at New York University, I had achieved what i wanted. I wanted to know I was not a bum. Once i realized that, and that i was as capable as anyone else, I didn’t care about school or my grades anymore. I went on to being even more direct, and said politely, ” I am really not interested in the things this university is teaching me at all. I just want the degree from the Stern School of Business.”
My friends, the man almost fell over and had a heart attack. He had never heard that from a student before. He starting looking around his office, on the ceiling and on the floors just to verify he was not inside of a dream, or nightmare I should say. Now I am not encouraging that behavior for anyone. But i knew there was no law that said I have to care about college once I was accepted into college. And my friends, I didn’t care at all. But I did end up graduating with an accounting degree with an exact 2.0 average. Anything less than that GPA and they won’t allow students to graduate until they get a GPA of 2.0, or higher.
So my friends, that is how I went from horrible grades in high school, to one of the best business schools in the county, to being asked by the Dean of business if I was some sort of “playboy”. Looking back, I should have said to him, “No, I’m not a playboy, but I do like looking at women’s boobies.”
I Hope you enjoyed that story my friends. There are hundreds more to come over time.
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