College Decisions Don’t Define You

Early college decisions are on the way!  Students who organized early, researched their college list and wrote all of the required essays could learn the earliest of their college decisions from the more selective colleges this week.  A lot of our clients are in this position because we push them to prepare and submit early.

Sometimes we get great news, and we share in our students’ joy when that happens.

Sometimes we get news that’s not cause for celebration.

And sometimes when the news is not good – either a deferral (which means they’ll still consider you, but your application will be considered in the typically larger pool of applications that comes in during the next round), or a denial – we get caught up in trying to interpret what those college decisions mean.

It’s ok for a denial to make you unhappy.  It’s ok for it to make you upset and angry – for a moment, or the rest of the day.  If you’re a parent, it’s really, really difficult to see your child in pain.  This may be the very first time in their life that you’ve had to see them not get what they want.

But a college denial is a speed bump at a snapshot in time.  It means THIS particular college had priorities that helped other students rise to the top of their list, and it means they receive many more applications than the limited space they have can accommodate.  It’s not a prediction about your future success.  Don’t let a college denial make you feel like everything you’ve done in high school – all your hard work – was for nothing.  It absolutely was not.  And you must not let it redefine how you see yourself.

Best selling author Kelly Corrigan says of her many college rejections, and her sole college acceptance, “I let it change the way I thought of myself.”  But she pressed on, and at that one and only college that admitted her, she actively participated in both academics and activities, and had an “amazing” experience. (And did I mention… selling author??)

Our friend Rick Clark, the Director of Admissions at Georgia Tech, shares some great ideas in this post about how to react and move forward from a college denial, as well as what it means and does not mean.  It’s not, he stresses, an indication that you aren’t qualified to attend a top college, or a prediction of what other college decisions will be for you.  In fact, you may be getting good news in a matter of weeks!

If you’ve done your college search correctly, you’ve probably submitted a bunch of other college applications or have them ready to go.  The magic in your college search process is having a balanced list – one in which you don’t put all of your eggs in the basket of the <10% admit rate schools (because it’s not cumulative – here’s proof).

Jon is the VP for Enrollment at Oregon State University.

You may have noticed, by the way (or you may not have), that we don’t use the words “accept” or “reject.”  We think these words are too stark and don’t reflect the subjective nature of college decisions – and that’s exactly what they are, subjective.  You’re going to be accepted into whatever college community you join.  This process is about “finding your people,” and if you build the right list, we promise you that will happen!

If you’re the parent of a 9th, 10th or 11th grader, we invite you to attend one of our free webinars to learn more about how the college admission process works.  The more you know and the more balanced your list is, the more likely you are to have great results and many choices.  And THAT is truly our goal as we help students through this process.

Upcoming webinars:

If you’d like more information about how we help families get college decisions that are cause for celebration, drop us a note!


Leave a Comment

Get started on your future, contact Magellan College Counseling today.