HomeArticlesRejections and Wait List Disappoint Student. What’s Next?

Dear Estelle. April 1 came and the results are in. Rejection letters arrived from my two top schools, I was wait listed at my next favorite and accepted at all the rest. I am  disappointed and angry.  I had perfect credentials to qualify for every school on my list but somehow something didn’t resonate with admissions at my top choices. What steps should I take now to ensure that I make a good choice that will guarantee me a quality education for the next four years?
KS, Cherry Creek High School

First of all, It wasn’t you personally that was rejected! Just to assure you that your numbers were certainly excellent and you would have been successful academically at your top choices, let me tell you about the numbers of applications that many of the most selective schools received this year. Brown, an always popular school, had 30,000 applications and accepted only 8.7%, Stanford broke a record by receiving 34,200 and admitted only 7.3% last year and an even smaller percentage this year. These are just two examples of how difficult the selection process has become at the very selective schools and how it’s trickling down to those colleges and universities which are equally excellent but may be accepting only 20-30% of their applicants.

At this point it’s important to stop grieving over the rejections, take a chance at the wait list knowing the odds aren’t always positive, and select your favorite school from all those that remain. If you want to take a crack at getting off the wait list, return your card or contact admissions and let them know you’re still on board; this is your first choice.  Send in any new awards or recognition you’ve received and possibly your 3rd quarter grades. Revisit the school if possible. Next, do your research and decide which of your “back up” schools will become your 1st choice. I dislike the word back up and discourage clients from using it because it denotes less than the best. When my clients put together a list of schools, they may have a favorite or two but all options should be considered keepers.  The top 50 colleges are extremely competitive and I encourage students to apply with the knowledge that their odds are extremely low as noted by the statistics posted above.

Back to the question of how to select your first choice school realizing the wait list may not materialize. First off, revisit your list and consider why you selected those schools in the first place. Location, major, size, basketball?  What made it a great fit?  Reread your college applications and discover why you chose this school when you applied. Attend admitted students’ events which are held locally this month around the city. Go to Facebook and visit with current and new students. Make a visit to the schools again.

Talk with students, stay over night in the dorm. There are over 3,000 schools in the country and you could easily be happy at 50. Examine your emotions and try to figure out what feels good to you. Could you be happy there for four years?

Make a decision by May 1 and be happy with your choice!

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