Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: Yesterday my cousin called me to ask if the dress she wanted to order for an interview was worth the money. I looked at the dress, and it was good for an interview -- it was professional. At the same time, I would not have bought it, and I told her that for me it wasn't special. It was not memorable. She explained that being remembered by your attire is not her goal, and that she just wanted to look professional. I told her I believed it was important to be remembered by your appearance as well as your interview because it adds to your complete package. Am I wrong to think that? -- Total Package, Syracuse, N.Y.

DEAR TOTAL PACKAGE: I'm with you! I believe that everything about your first impression is important, from how you look to what you have to say. Your style of dress should not be flashy, but it should make a statement about who you are. It should not break your bank, though.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I just finished reading the column where the young girl who just graduated from college wants to explore options while her mother wants her to go straight to grad school. That girl may be able to satisfy both herself and her mother.

Just because you apply to grad school does not mean you are accepted right away. There are usually hundreds of applicants for just a few dozen openings each semester. My daughter graduated magna cum laude from a large university. She applied to 15 universities in a five-state area and was not accepted to any of them. So she will continue her part-time job and volunteer at a clinic at which she one day hopes to be employed when she gets her master's degree. And each semester she will continue to apply to grad school.

So, you see, that young lady may still be able to explore the world, but she can also apply to grad school to make her mother happy. Just because she applies does not mean she is accepted. -- Practical Mom, Washington, D.C.

DEAR PRACTICAL MOM: You are right that not every excellent student gets accepted to graduate school simply because he or she applied. When one is rejected, as your daughter was, it is important to remember that she is still highly valued. Your daughter is lucky to have you to remind her of her current successes and her promise for the future.

That said, I think it is important for a potential student to be clear that it is possible to be selected on the first go-round. At that time, you would need to think carefully about whether you intend to go to school in the year that you are accepted or if you want to request a deferral. Not all schools allow deferrals, but it is worth researching so that you have a sense of what your options are. Being responsible and ready to make a decision is key to success in every situation.