Reduce Stress: Build a Balanced List
Last week, high school seniors heard their admissions decisions from UCLA, UC Berkeley and many top-tier private universities. The last week in March can be tough for students who resist what all college counselors advise: balance your college list.
Students often ask me how many “reach” schools they should have on their list. I ask how many rejection letters they think they would be comfortable receiving. It sounds harsh, but it’s simply a matter of numbers. The 8 Ivy League schools have 19,000 seats in their collective freshman classes. There are 35,000 high schools in the United States. There just isn’t enough space in the top-tier colleges to fit all of the qualified students who could succeed there.
I worked with a student this year who was accepted Early Action to MIT in December. She was rejected from Stanford and wait-listed at Harvard (there were plenty of other acceptances!). Clearly she is capable of doing high-level college work; she just didn’t fit into the class that Harvard and Stanford are trying to build this year. (For more on this, see this New York Times article.)
Because we can’t see the unique class that each college is trying to build, nor the applicants from all over the country and the world, it’s nearly impossible to predict who will be accepted – and why no student is a “shoo-in” anywhere.
So how can you help your student be happy with his/her results, knowing that there are NEVER any guarantees with top-ranked colleges? And how can you reduce the pain that comes with each rejection letter?
- Start early. Start visiting colleges as early as 9th grade, so that your student gets a sense of what colleges campuses feel like, and can see him/herself at several different colleges.
- Don’t grow attached to a college simply because of its name, or because of family connections.
- Encourage your student to take challenging classes and to explore intellectual and academic interests.
- Encourage your student to participate deeply in outside-of-school activities – music, drama, sports, leadership, community service – they are all great.
- Be realistic about the college list – have at least three schools at which you are confident you will be accepted. To avoid feeling “let-down,” make sure you REALLY LIKE those colleges.
The juniors with whom we are working now are each looking at lists of 25-50 colleges, and most high school seniors apply to between 12 and 15 schools. There are 2,200+ four-year colleges in the U.S. Don’t limit yourself!
New Package Options from Magellan College Counseling!
Magellan now offers four choices for using our services:
>> The comprehensive college counseling package starts the first day of junior year and goes through the end of senior year.
>> The mini-plan includes major and career exploration, college list development, our Common App boot camp, and essay development and revision.
>> Our performing arts package is specifically for students exploring BA/BFA programs and applying to schools that require an audition.
>> Our hourly rate is for students who just need a little help now and then.
Please call for more information and rates!
Save the Date: Presentation in Pacific Palisades
Join Evelyn Jerome-Alexander and psychologist Dr. Lauren Wecker for an interactive workshop designed to help you get through the frustration of the college search process.
Thursday, April 17th, 5:30 – 7 pm
Palisades Library, 861 Alma Real Drive, Pacific Palisades
FREE AND OPEN TO ALL!
Magellan’s College Visits
I was in New England a few weeks ago visiting colleges in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Take a look at my photos and reviews of Brown University, Trinity College, University of Rhode Island, and Wesleyan University, as well as updated thoughts from my second visits to Clark University and WPI.
As always, you can find my reviews of California colleges here, and out-of-state colleges I’ve visited here.
I’ll be visiting colleges in Illinois next week!
Free Initial Consultation policy: Magellan is happy to meet with students and families for a free 60-minute consultation. All subsequent meetings will be subject to hourly rates, which will be credited back for those who sign up for Magellan’s comprehensive college counseling plan.