This is the time of year that represents “anticipation” like no other. For high school seniors it takes on a special meaning as early decisions begin rolling in. Students will be feeling all kinds of emotions—elation, trepidation, dejection, guilt even, maybe. As part of the Roeper family, we all will want to celebrate or sympathize, so please share your news with the people who care about you—particularly the teachers who wrote letters of recommendation for you. I am also very interested, and would appreciate hearing from you. A couple of things to remember:
Celebrate sensitively. This is a pretty stressful time for everyone and for students who do not receive the decision we hoped for, it might take a little time to get used to.
Mourn briefly. If you do not get the decision you wanted, do NOT take this as rejection!!! It’s hard, but important, to remember that this is a process set up by the colleges and universities, who have been building entering classes for years and have a good sense of the freshman class they are looking for; and what they are looking for in each individual will vary from college to college and year to year. All you can do is present yourself as positively and honestly as you can, and I guarantee, there will be colleges that find you to be just right for them—and you will have tough choices to make!
You may not hear from colleges until after the break starts. Remember, an acceptance means you have until May 1 to think, visit or re-visit and decide. A denial means you can cut your losses and move on. And a deferment, assuming you are interested in continuing to be considered, means contacting the admissions office to let them know of your interest and any new information you want to send them:
Here’s What to Do If You’re Deferred
All colleges are reporting dramatic increases in the number of early applications they’ve received. There are a number of reasons for this, both good and bad, but the bottom line is more students are applying for early spots, and there’s no indication the number of early spots is going to increase all that much. As a result, there’s a good chance more early applicants will be deferred for a second review than ever before at a number of colleges.
If this should happen, first and foremost, don’t panic or be discouraged—this has been happening for the past few years, and with more applications being submitted to top colleges this year, it’s likely to happen this year as well. This doesn’t mean you don’t qualify, or that the college doesn’t want you—it simply means the college wants to know a little more about you before they decide. This is an opportunity to begin a discussion about who you are, and that can be a tremendous plus…
…and the time to begin that discussion is right away. If you are deferred or wait-listed by a college, you should write them back immediately with a letter or email that expresses your continued interest in the college. Something like this would be great (don’t use this word for word, though—be a little creative…)
“Thank you for letting me know about your recent decision on my application. While I’m disappointed that I’ve been deferred, I want to let you know I’m still very interested in (name of college), and here’s why…”
You now use the rest of the letter to talk about why you think you would be a great student at that college. In doing this, give them as much NEW information about yourself as possible—new things you’ve done since you applied, any awards or honors you’ve received, activities you’ve been involved in: Michigan Roundtable, the play, a sports team, or an honor or award you have received. You could describe your Senior Project and what you hope to learn and accomplish. You could have someone with a different perspective on you write a letter of recommendation—but don’t start flooding their mailboxes with your fan mail! It really needs to be NEW information.
Don’t send the same information you sent the first time—they can figure that out in a hurry, and it hurts your application. The idea here is you want to give them even more insights into who you are. It would be especially helpful if you can talk about how your thinking about college has changed in the last couple of months and you have new reasoning about why you are a good fit for them—because of what new information you have learned about them—or yourself— and how you feel this college meets even more of your interests than before.
However, DON’T whine, beg, grovel or lavish praise. They know how wonderful they are, and they already know that you really, really, really want to go there, so you don’t need to remind them of that.
In the last paragraph, you close with something like… “I’ll be meeting with my college counselor after the New Year, and we’ll be sending you my midyear grades in late January. If there’s any other information I can supply, or if I can be of help with anything else, please let me know by calling me or e-mailing me at________________. Thank you again for your continued interest in my application.”
The idea here is that you want to use this as an opportunity to extend the dialogue with the college. This is an invitation to tell them more about yourself—make the most of it. Of course, you could see this as a setback, and that’s understandable. Hope is good, but action is better, and we can only control what we can control—so get busy, and watch what happens.
Look over your college list. Do you have a good balance of schools—reach, target and likely? Did you put a lot of thought into your list or did you throw something together to get the process started? If you are deferred from your Early Action school(s), do you have a group of schools you are enthusiastic about? Some of you may be adding some schools that you consider to be “likely” or “safety” schools. Remember, it is only a true “safely” school if you really would be happy to go there!
On the other hand, I have long thought that the key to happiness in life was to have a “Plan B” that you are really excited about (before I got my Master’s in Counseling, I seriously considered going to La Varenne, a cooking school in France) Have your college goals changed since September? You are welcome to come into College Counseling to brainstorm your current college list—and make sure you have lots of hard choices to make next spring! Think of how you can get motivated to write your remaining essays. Now that you’ve established what you want the colleges to know about you, look over your remaining essay questions—in order of due date—and see how you can tailor your previous essays to their specific questions. If that doesn’t fit, remember, you are speaking to people who want to get to know you better. Be yourself! If you are really stuck on ideas, we can brainstorm that, too!
If you do add some colleges, remember, for the Common App, once your recommenders have completed their part, everything will immediately be sent to each college as you “submit” your part! If you are applying to any colleges with Rolling Admissions, set yourself a deadline before this Thursday at noon to get your transcript sent out before the break. Otherwise, keep me posted when your part is sent, and I will guarantee our part will be sent as soon as we return from break. In any case, make sure to be aware of the deadlines!
Even if you do get a positive response from your dream college, while you are still in essay writing mode, don’t forget those scholarship essays that could make a difference of a few thousand dollars!
Make a schedule. Take your remaining essays (college and scholarship) and make a schedule of what to write each week. Remember—although College Counseling will be closed from December 19-January 4, you can still submit from home right up until the deadline (Actually, remembering the problems the Common App has had in the past, make it several days before the “real” deadline). Just make sure that if you need to communicate with College Counseling, do so before the end of the day on December 18 (because we will be closed from December 19-January 4). If you need to reach me over the holiday break, you can email, and I’ll check my email as regularly as I can.
- If a college writes to say “our records indicate”, and they tell you Roeper never sent a transcript, or that something from Roeper is missing from your application, they are most likely wrong—in fact, they will undoubtedly find it over the break, and all will be well. Just to play it safe, e-mail or call me at 248.203.7418 when you get the note from the college, and let me know what they’re asking for—then bring the letter in on January 4th, and we’ll hunt it down.
- If a college writes to say they need your ACT or SAT scores, remember you need to send those scores in—and you can do that over break! Go to www.act.org for ACT or www.collegeboard.org for SAT scores.
- It goes without saying that you should do whatever it takes over break to make sure your grades are as strong as they can be for this semester. If you have long term assignments or work to make up, use a little of the break to get this taken care of. Even 15 or 20 minutes a day can make a difference
Important News from U of M
I spoke with our rep from U-M this week, who told me Michigan is still on track to send admissions notifications out by December 24th to all students who applied by November 1st. They have received over 30,000 early action applications and Sally says that they are still reading applications. While she is not sure of the exact date notifications will be sent, it will not likely be before we leave for Winter Break
More to the point: the 30,000 applications represent an increase from their record number of 27,000 for last year.
Sally pretty much confirmed that they will postpone a significant number of applicants, particularly if the student is “on the cusp” in terms of overall grades—or if the grade trend (eg. C’s in junior year) suggests the admission committee “might want to see if the student is able to ‘recoup’ in the senior fall semester,” or to see how well the student is faring with the rigorous senior year courses.
We automatically send 7th semester (1st semester senior year) grades for every student who has been deferred. Students who have new, significantly higher test scores from December or earlier might want to send those, particularly Engineering hopefuls who get higher math scores.
Deferred from MSU?
Michigan State is not only becoming increasingly competitive, they are more and more interested in making sure the students are a good fit and maximally capable of success at MSU. To that end, they have instituted a rather lengthy mandatory questionnaire for deferred students to fill out—covering things like study habits and personal characteristics. If asked to do this, be thoughtful about it—particularly because they ask similar questions several times and it’s important that your answers are consistent. And we will send them your 7th semester grades as well.
Is There Something You Shouldn’t Do if You’re Deferred?
1. Don’t give up hope—as I said, this is shaping up to be a record year for early applicants.
2. Don’t call the college over the holiday. If you get a college decision before the 19th and want to call the college, that’s OK (just make sure you are composed and calm before talking to them). If you call much after that, the college will most likely be closed for the holiday, and it’s best not to clog their voice mail. Write the letter, talk to me when Roeper opens on the 4th, then call the college.
A FINAL NOTE:
When I think about how students worry about college decisions, and sometimes, even for just a short time, see their worth and value in terms of what college “accepts” them, I want to reach out and let them know that: It’s just school! The joy of what I have done for a living for the past thirty years is to have had the opportunity to get to know young people at a time of their lives when they are ready to launch into the future. I’ve been able to see beauty in every single person I have known. And while each college presents its own unique opportunities, you bring a richness and uniqueness to the experience that far exceeds the location you choose. That’s why we always talk about having a good “fit.” You may have many acquaintances, but you are only best friends with a select few. Never lose sight of how remarkable you are, even for a moment, and definitely don’t let a college admissions office define you for yourself.
Finally, between inclement weather and holiday revelers, and friends who are home after being on their own for months or longer, it is easy to get caught up in the spirit of celebration and forget to make good choices. Take care of yourselves, and make 2016 your best year yet.
Patricia Bostwick, MA, LPC
Director of College Counseling