Confidentially speaking, as both an admissions officer and guidance counselor, the day that decisions went out was one of my least favorite days of the year.
In my first year of admissions at a highly selective college, I received a call from a student who didn’t get in. This student was strong academically and involved in many activities, but just didn’t make the cut. The only question that they asked me was “why?” I stammered and didn’t know what to say. We were supposed to say something like “it has been a very competitive year and we were not able to admit all qualified applicants.” But this young man was persistent and wanted a specific reason. This, I was not able to give him, which I know was very frustrating.
As a high school guidance counselor, “Decision Day” was even tougher, because students were getting all sorts of news–some were ecstatic and some were incredibly disappointed.
This blog post is for everyone who is receiving decisions this week (as it happens to be a week when a lot of letters are mailed and decisions are dropped). I just wanted to share a few thoughts and suggestions as you navigate the rest of the year:
Don’t take it personally
This process is not a reflection of who you are as a human being. Remember, college admissions decisions are made in the self-interest of the college and have little regard for individual applicants. True self-worth comes from within. This is also something to keep in mind if you received very good news–the journey does not stop here. A college will not immediately make you into something–you still have to earn it on your own.
College Admissions are not fair
This is one of the dirty not-so-secrets of the admissions process (particularly at elite schools). Colleges are looking to shape their classes in different ways and have many institutional priorities.
Take a break from admissions talk
I get it, this is a tough one. However, some of the most stress-free students I have worked with are the ones who have opted out of the admissions chatter. Instead, watch a movie, read a book, or talk about other topics.
This is a simple one, but should repeated. Be kind–this is a tough time of the year for students. If you are someone who received good news, you should be humble and not broadcast it. If you didn’t receive good news, try to be supportive of your friends who did.
In the end, it all works out
If we fast forward to August or September, all of you will be getting ready to go to a wonderful college where you fill find great professors, friends, and all sorts of meaningful opportunities. A little bit of time can make a big difference as far as changing your perspective.
Good luck to everyone, and if you know someone who would benefit from reading this post, please share!