“Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud.” – Sophocles
With respect to Sophocles, when making plans for college, I disagree.
Here’s the story.
I had already been accepted to Western Michigan University, but was applying for acceptance to the Lee Honors College within the University.
The Lee Honors College aims to enrich its members with distinctive classes and special opportunities in order to create “The Distinctive Student“.
Members of the Honors College were eligible to live in a special residence hall with like-minded students and certain restrictions that made study time more possible and profitable.
My GPA was high enough to qualify, and I had no trouble writing the essay about why I would make a good addition to the Honors College, but I didn’t look at the due date on the teacher recommendations. You see, I was supposed to have two teachers and a school administrator write recommendations for me to get into the program. The first time I saw the due date was the day before they were due.
I did not freak out. Doing assignments the night before the due date was how I got through high school. It was like I was training myself for this very situation.
I approached two of my favorite teachers and the vice-principal in school that day and explained my situation. One of the teachers told me that it would be a pleasure and that she would have my recommendation done by the end of the school day. The other two told me that they were too busy to write them and that I should have approached them sooner.
Sure, they were right, but I wasn’t about to let that stop me.
I made them an offer.
“I will write the recommendations for you,” I said, “then you can read them over and only sign off on them if they sound like something you would have written anyway.”
“Sure,” they both said.
And so I wrote my recommendations. I made sure to write them with different voices, and using slightly different layouts to account for the fact that they were being written by two different people. I drove to their homes that night and got their signatures, thereby making them real.
The following day, I drove to Kalamazoo and handed in all of my materials.
Within a couple of weeks, I got notification in the mail that I was accepted into the program.
I wasn’t surprised. I had at least two very good recommendations.