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Seniors: Stay Positive and Look Forward

After most ED 1 Decisions, some students are happy, others disappointed. 

My seniors have worked hard, perfecting applications since the spring. Together, we crafted essays that express their defining qualities and fine-tuned attention-getting activity lists. I helped them honestly choose majors (including undeclared/exploratory) that speak to their direction. We balanced college lists between Likely, Possible, and Reach categories. That’s why many students have been receiving “You’re In!” messages for a while, some with scholarships for over $100,000 over four years. And yes, some of those are Reaches.

When students set their hearts on Unlikely colleges (those which deny 85% plus applicants), I try to help them manage expectations. “Unlikely” colleges are truly “Wild Cards.” Every applicant is highly qualified, and may include up to 26,000+ valedictorians, an equal number of salutatorians, and students from all over the globe, many of whom have won academic competitions and published notable work.

While we all hope for good news, assuming admission is unrealistic. It may feel personal, but it is not. Institutional priorities dictate if a school is looking for students to fill their new data science major, more tuba players, or more kids from Idaho.

I make clear that the competition in an uber-competitive program (i.e., a STEM field like Computer Science or Engineering) in a most-selective institution is brutal. Admissions must make tough decisions among the highest achievers in the field–in the US and internationally. And while admission to some colleges seems achievable, applying to the business school may result in a denial.

A few students were deferred from a college that defers 90% of its applicants every year. I am relieved that although they were disappointed, they were not shocked. 

Denials and deferrals are part of the college application process.

“If you are denied, repeat this mantra: ‘There will be other, better colleges for me and it is their loss.’ LET IT GO. Don't obsess about why it happened. It is out of your control. And most importantly, this is NOT a referendum on your success at college, your ability to have a happy life or your value as a person.” 

I’m rooting for you, from now through May 1st.

Enjoy the holidays!


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