Cornell University, Technical Program Manager at Google
Bjorn, the former Editor-in-Chief of Cornell's prestigious Cornell Business Review, excels at writing poetry and composing classical piano pieces. Yet, despite his success, he was rejected by his dream schools twice, failed the University of Iceland Medical School entrance exam, and was never admitted to a research lab while studying biology.
"I almost left Cornell after my first year—at the time, I had decided I wanted to go to medical school, but I didn't have the money to do so in the US. So, I tried to get into med school in Iceland. The system is quite different there; there is no undergrad, just six years of med school. However, you have to take a twelve-hour entrance exam. Hundreds take it, and only a handful get in. Most people who are serious about the exam spend about six months preparing. I, on the other hand, started studying about two and a half weeks before the exam date, a few days after my Cornell finals. I figured I could do it: after all, I had a full year of college on the rest of them, and I figured the fact that the exam was in Icelandic would not hinder me much. Perhaps that would have been true in an ideal world, but I'll never find out. I placed three spots below the cutoff, a matter of a few points.
Truth be told, I was rather lazy about my studying, and I didn't put in nearly as many hours as I should have. At any rate, it was a failure, and the next entrance exam was in a year. My parents were disappointed, my relatives, surprised, and I... I was unsure. I could see it simply as another failure and to keep trudging through pre-med at Cornell with the hopes of getting a full-ride into an MD/PhD program. Instead, I chose to learn from it. I realized that the reason I had put off studying for so long was because I really wasn't crazy about going to medical school. That summer, I decided I would try new things at Cornell. I enrolled in two Econ classes along with my normal premed ones. Two weeks later, I realized I really didn't like Econ, so I swapped those classes for CS. Two years later, CS is still my major. There are days when I wish I had stuck with pre-med (and they seem to line up suspiciously often with CS exam dates), but if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing."