Preparing for College

Thin Envelope Blues

Yes, it's that time of year. April 2. The Day After.

Yesterday was The Big Day. The Ivy League released their admission decisions and high school seniors all over the world got the news they had been so anxiously awaiting since late December. Some of those seniors are on Cloud Nine today. Many others are in a deep funk. If you are one of those deep funkers, I'd like to say some things to you.


rejected

Getting a rejection letter from a college or university doesn't make you a bad person. Unfortunately, some high school seniors see themselves in a less-than-positive light when they read the bad news from a highly desired institution.

Dealing with rejection is difficult. Most high schoolers tend to take being turned down by a college or university on a personal level. They seem to think that the letter from the admissions office is really saying something like, "You are deficient and we don't want to have anything to do with you." Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is that in a lot of cases some rejected students could have done as well, if not better, than those who were accepted. This isn't a rationalization or sour grapes. At schools where there is a significantly larger number of applications than seats (schools whose acceptance rate is 50 percent or less), there just isn't room for all the qualified applicants. This fact is borne out by the so-called Wait List. A wait list is a group of "in-betweeners" who haven't been rejected but haven't been admitted. They will be offered admission if the number of enrollments doesn't meet expectations for the incoming freshman class.

One famous dean of admission said that his institution received so many outstanding applications that he didn't have the heart to send rejection letters. He noted that placing these fine young men and women on the wait list was his way of saying, "We should have admitted you, but we didn't have room." Such is the case with many good colleges. Everyone who is good enough to get in isn't always offered admission.

Take a little time to feel disappointed about not getting into your most-desired school(s). It's perfectly natural to feel bad. Don't dwell on it, though, and, by all means, don't develop an obsessive attitude about it. Don't hate that school from this moment on. Don't view successful candidates as elitist snobs. Accept the fact that you didn't make the cut--for whatever reason--and get on with your life.

Embrace those schools that have embraced you. Select the one that best suits your needs and prepare to have a great higher-education experience. Yes, indeed; there is life after rejection.

If you would like to share your feelings or merely read those of others who have also been denied, check out the College Confidential discussion forum. It's where the most interesting high schoolers, college students, and parents gather to share their wealth of experience and knowledge.

If you would also like to voice some of your thoughts here, please do. You're always welcome.

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Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.