The Truth About College Admissions

Susan Reilly, College Counselor
The truth about college admissions is that there’s one thing you can always count on: uncertainty. As long as you can lean in to the unknown, you will survive the process. But… who is comfortable with the unknown? What a daunting place to be as you navigate your senior year!
To alleviate the angst, let’s break down the steps involved in the college admissions process.
  1. You, the applicant, after much research and deliberation, choose the colleges to which you will apply, and submit your applications.
  1. College admissions officers evaluate your applications and make the decision as to whether or not you are a good fit for their institution.
  1. You receive your application notifications, and then YOU choose where to attend. (And deny the other colleges that admitted you!)
It’s important to understand that you are in control of two-thirds of this process – where you choose to apply, and where you ultimately choose to go. The uncertainty lies in the middle of this process, causing stress and uneasiness in students (and parents) as they wait and wonder. Where will I get in? What if my dream school denies my application? What if I don’t get admitted to any colleges at all?
First of all, as long as you have crafted a well-balanced list of colleges, you are bound to get good news! A well-balanced list would include schools that are distributed equally across all three of these categories: LIKELY (likely to be admitted), LEVEL (looks good but you never know), and REACH (chances are slim but you are eager to try anyway).
Secondly, all of the colleges on your final list should be schools that you would be excited to attend! How can you be disappointed about attending a school that, based on your research, encompasses so much of what you are looking for in a college environment?
Finally, if you are denied by the school of your dreams, it can be a crushing experience. But it is also a life lesson, from which you will learn resilience and humility, and from which you will certainly grow. And, because you have done your research, and have been admitted to other colleges that are also aligned with what you value, you just might discover that your next choice, the school you decide to attend, turns out to be your dream school after all.