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Ask and you shall receive

When I was applying to schools in the United States, I got burned because I failed to ask if they actually have the necessary resources available to provide the kind of financial aid that met my need. What that meant was that I was accepted into schools that I could not afford and they could not afford to meet my financial need. While there is value in Grace Hopper's belief that "It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission", this was clearly a case where a few straightforward questions would have saved me from wasted effort and saved the admission committee some valuable time. Since then, I learned an important lesson that being straightforward ahead of time and understanding if something is even doable prevents you from investing in labor that do not bear fruits. The worst that could happen by checking is that the person/group will notify you that what you are proposing, given the current circumstances, is not feasible. However, as you can see, failing to clarify those things ahead of time alsmost always leads to time and energy that rarely result in a positive outcome.

When I applied to St. Lawrence as a transfer student for entry in Fall 2003, I was faced with a second rejection (I was also met with a rejection when I first applied as a freshman from Nepal). I was very close to giving up and most likely not applied had it not been for another Nepali student who was attending SLU then informing me that my application had gone pretty far up the chain. However, armed with this new information, I did not hesitate to call the Director of International Admissions and ask for feedback on my application. I was especially interested in unveiling the areas where I was failing to illustrate how I was a good match for St. Lawrence and vice versa. He mentioned that my application did not clearly demonstrate why I was looking for a liberal arts education and how St. Lawrenece fit the bill in terms of what I was looking for in my undergraduate experience. With that feedback, I was able to improve my application and was accepted for entry in Spring 2004. As they say, third time's a charm :).

Even though I had learned what could happen when I fail to ask the right questions on the outset, it took me almost two years to learn that the potential of receiving what you ask for far outweighs the risk of them denying your request. Since then, I always remember to ask because when you ask, you shall receive either what you ask for or at least a good reason what you need to do before you can have it.

Remote Pair Programming with Pat Maddox »
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