While for the most part, there isn’t much going on, college-wise this week, a couple of students stopped by to let me know of college decisions they just received. We’re down to the last few weeks before almost every college will have made their “final” decisions. Some colleges will be notifying students with a maddening drip, drip, drip, and some will flood you with decisions right in time for April Fool’s Day!
No wonder they call it “March Madness!” (and you thought it was about basketball!)
First of all, every one of you who has completed a college application has gotten into at least one college! Someone very smart in a college admissions office decided you are a good fit for their college and they want you to enroll there! Think about that for a minute…
There are students out there right now that can barely see themselves getting to high school graduation, some who can barely see themselves getting through each day, and here you are with a college waiting for you (and your enrollment deposit)! Some of you are already trying to weigh different options, with the idea that there may be more to come.
And some of you may be worried that your “dream” college may “reject” you.
And although you have been wise enough to not put all of your application eggs into one “dream basket,” while we have some days of calm ahead of us, I’d like to pass along some sage advice from the Dean of Students at USC, Dr. Brian Harke:
“Here are some things to keep in mind if you receive a denial letter from your first pick college:
1—The process is very subjective
2—As hard as it is, don’t take denial personally
3—You are not a failure
4—Celebrate the colleges you do get into
5—There is always a transfer option
6—Parents: give your students a break”
1–The process is subjective. If all it took was great grades and test scores record numbers of valedictorians would not have been rejected from highly selective colleges this past year. Ever since the baby boom of 2007 when highly selective colleges began accepting under 10%, valedictorians and salutatorians with perfect test scores have been rejected by schools like Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Princeton. This is not so much because the college is harder to get into—it is because so many more students are applying and they still take virtually the same number of freshmen as before—that’s what “admit rate” means. As the college has so many more students to choose from, they are more likely to go beyond the top grades and test scores and look for other factors (“fit”) that they believe will make each student successful at their campus. Per Brian, subjectivity comes into play as application reviewers have their own take on things, and each application is looked at in comparison with those reviewed in the past.
2–Don’t take it personally. “Someone at the college just didn’t think you were the right fit at the time…chances are the admissions team did you a favor. If they didn’t see you as a good fit, you’d probably end up disliking the college had you gotten in.” You aren’t best friends with everyone you know, you chose to come to Roeper rather than somewhere else. Every place isn’t equal, and like it or not, the admissions people have a lot more knowledge than the applicants about who will be successful at their college!
3–You are not a failure. For every college you got into, you took the place of someone else who was “rejected.” You are an amazing successful person, and the sting of denial will pass. Besides that, you will ultimately “reject” all but one of the colleges that accept you–think about that!
4–Celebrate the colleges you do get into. This is an incredible accomplishment. Celebrate but be humble!
5–You can always transfer. I have heard various admissions reps say, “If your goal is to graduate from XYZ College/University, you still have that option.” After one or two years at a community college, you also can transfer with a B college average and save nearly half of your tuition as well. You can transfer from another university; just be mindful of what courses you take. Of course, if you followed our advice of having every college a “first choice” you will be happier if you give your college a real try and approach the experience with a positive attitude. While transfer can still be an option, most students decide that the admissions people knew what they were doing, and end up staying at the college where they started.
6–Parents: While our instinct is to want to shield our children from pain, this is a true growth opportunity. We all know we learn more from our “failures” than from our successes, and this may be the first chance your child has had to learn that they can look rejection in the face and move on. This is how children become mature adults, gain compassion and develop character. Allow them this full experience. Per Brian, “Be supportive and find the good in the situation. There is always good.”
And finally, don’t forget to live in the moment, appreciate each other and note that as your relationships have changed and will continue to change, Roeper students are bright, independent and resilient, but having a loving support system is something we never outgrow!