The Sound of College Decisions…In December?

Did you hear that?

That’s the sound of pure joy – the sound of the student who was admitted to her first choice college – the college whose binding Early Decision application she submitted on November 1.

But that other sound you hear in the background – that sound of confusion and frustration?  That’s the sound of the student who was deferred.  “We’ll tell you later,” the college said.  “When we see who else applies.”

There’s one more sound we hear in December.  The sound of rejection.  It’s a slap in the face to a 17 or 18-year old, a harsh reality when the college they really want – the college to which they were ready to pledge the next four years of their life – takes a pass.  It’s hard.  We lift our chins and move forward.

There is one thing all of these students have in common, and one reason for which they should ALL be congratulated.  They all got their acts together – applications, essays, teacher recommendations, more essays – in time for the early deadlines, usually November 1 or 15, giving them the luxury of being notified before winter break.

While the news wasn’t always necessarily good, it’s nice to know early.  Because from now until about mid-March it’s going to sound like crickets.

So congratulations to the admitted students!  It’s a feeling of both joy and relief, to know that you are really going to college – sometimes to your first choice college!

For the deferred students, there are strategies to follow, and if you can push the frustration aside, remember that college did not say NO, they just said WAIT, give us a little more time to think about you.  You should give them more to think about!  If what you submitted the first time wasn’t quite persuasive enough, send another teacher recommendation letter, or refresh your resume, or tell them about an accomplishment you’ve had since you submitted the application.  Dr. Rebecca Joseph offers a few more tips for deferred students here.

And finally, for the student holding the rejection letter (or e-mail) – I can say this.  I’ve held that letter before.  It sucks.  It’s maddening.  You thought you were a strong candidate.  You started to envision yourself walking around that campus.  Remember that they don’t know YOU, they only know what several pieces of paper say about you.  And the denial DOES NOT MEAN you couldn’t have succeeded there.  It usually means there were simply too many highly qualified people competing for a space in that class.

The lesson is really for 10th and 11th graders.  Look at your senior friends who have decisions already.  They are deliriously happy, or they are crushed.  But they know.  They know long before the rest of the senior class.  Get that work done early and you too could express these sounds of December, instead of waiting, waiting, waiting until March.

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