The lesson of David Hogg Who are the rising leaders among us?

“What kind of dumb@ss colleges don’t want you?” CNN host Alisyn Camerota asked gun control activist David Hogg after reviewing the report he had been rejected by the University of California at Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and Irvine. 

Unfortunately, the answer is probably quite a few. 

On paper, David Hogg doesn’t look like an incredibly impressive candidate for college admission. His 1270 SAT score—considerably below our school average of about 1330— makes him only a moderately competitive applicant for many top schools.

But we know that David Hogg is an exceptional teenager. After surviving the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School shooting, he and his classmates have been leading a global movement to pressure lawmakers to pass more restrictive gun control legislation. He has organized several high-profile marches and rallies and helped found Never Again MSD, a gun control advocacy organization.

Hogg received his rejection letters a few weeks after the shooting; presumably, colleges had reviewed his application and rendered decisions before he rose to national prominence. Clearly, colleges weren’t able to see Hogg’s talent for public speaking and community organizing or his deep understanding of law making in America. Because they were limited to standardized test scores, grades, and various writing samples—and because Hogg only fully demonstrated his leadership after applying—admission officers could not accurately gauge Hogg’s potential at a university.

Students like David Hogg, with unconventional or latent talents, can easily get lost. It is as difficult for them to communicate those strengths to colleges as it is for colleges to detect those strengths in them. Hogg himself has acknowledged as much, telling CNN, “I think there’s a lot of really good candidates who don’t get into college.”

We knights should work to discover and demonstrate our own strengths, even if they are not the strengths that colleges typically seek out—and even if colleges reject us anyway. It’s important we understand that we can make a difference without respect to our acceptance in realms beyond the immediate. 

As Hogg has said, “Regardless of whether or not you get into college, you can still change the world.”

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