Written by: Joyce Slayton Mitchell*
It’s April, and your college decisions are all in. Not getting in hurts. When your friends, teachers, and neighbors ask you where you got in, you can’t name a college. It’s hard because you really can’t believe it. You thought you had a better chance at Penn or Purdue or Pomona. You are still surprised and shocked that you didn’t get in. It may help to know that very few students get through the college selection process without hurt feelings. And disappointment hurts. No one else has any idea!
Above all, remember that 85% of the students who apply to a college can do the work there. For the most part, students self-select, in that they have the academics needed to do the job wherever they apply. The college then selects 5% to 50% from that 85% of the qualified students they need for that particular college and class. In other words, most of you didn’t get in because the admissions dean was looking for diversity - that means a few students from as many different states, countries, language groups, race, and gender diversity - as they can find. Why? Because American educators believe that students learn from each other. Diverse students bring new points of view to the discussion in the classroom, the dormitories, on the playing fields and in the coffee houses. When you do get in from the waitlist or more applications, you can look at your college choice from another point of view, the college that accepted you looked for someone just like you. They are planning on your particular personality, points of view in the classroom and special talents to add to their freshman class.
Now is the time to get to know the colleges where you are waitlisted. I know. You didn’t think you were going to have to get to know them better, to keep trying, and maybe to write more applications. Remember this, we all like best what we know best. For that reason, your job now is to get to know your waitlist colleges best! A good way to start that process is to learn about your next choice colleges. Get in touch with students from your high school who are at those colleges on your list who have been there for one or two years. You don’t know any others? Then ask your college counselor and, or email the admissions office and ask for the name and address of some students who are there from your school or city. The fastest way to live with what is is to get right to work on your next applications and waitlist notes. Read more about those colleges in college guides, and check out their college websites.
Don’t let yourself feel down. Living well with your disappointments means learning more about yourself. You have no time to waste as to get your next set of college applications sent in. Some colleges are open until May and June. I mean good, strong colleges that lead to every career choice. Hard to believe now, but by this time next year, it will be where you want to be … where your friends and opportunities are!
**Joyce Slayton Mitchell served 17 years as the Director of College Advising at the Nightingale-Bamford School in New York City, five years as Director of College Advising in Newark Academy, NJ, and five years at Greenwich High School, CT. She currently is a Sino-American Consultant in Education specializing in US College Admissions in China. Mitchell is the author of forty-one works of nonfiction, including: 8 First Choices, 2017, and College Culture: What’s My Match?
• Adapted from 8 First Choices, third edition, 2017, by Joyce Slayton Mitchell