Decisions are out for the Class of 2018. The Admission season for the Class of 2018 was as brutal as usual, applications were up and admission statistics down. I try to make it clear at the beginning to my students and families that if a college accepts less than 50% of its applicants, it is a reach. Colleges with admission rates below 20%? We are talking a dream school. Even if you are qualified, remember that all students competing for a spot at one of these “dream” universities are just as qualified. Are you valedictorian? Well, so are most of the other applicants. Oh, you had a perfect score? So did most of the others. Have you published or won a prestigious academic prize? Many of them have. Colleges have the advantage, and their criteria changes every year because they are building a class, not looking at each applicant as an individual. Here is the truth: the lower the acceptance rate, the less likely you are to get in, and the less likely it is that you will receive any scholarships. The lower the admission percentage, the harder it is to even reach your admission counselor at the school! There are some students and families who will not believe these facts, or they think they will be the exception. When a student doesn’t get into a dream school they feel rejected, and hurt. I feel sad for them, but sometimes you are better off not getting what you wanted. If you applied wisely, and did your homework well, you will have several excellent choices. Don’t apply to more than one dream school, and only apply to one or two reaches. The rest should be colleges where you have a good chance of being accepted, and schools that are very likely to accept you. Don’t apply to more than 10 colleges….students these days are applying to 15, 20, 25 colleges….just hoping to beat the odds. I’m a poker player, and I will tell you a secret: the house almost always wins. One in a million…those aren’t very good odds.
Very few students are well matched for the “super elite” (i.e., hard to get into) colleges. And there are colleges out there who really want you! They will offer you merit aid, scholarships, and financial aid packages. There are so many wonderful colleges with so many opportunities! Public university honors colleges, liberal arts schools with incredible programs and offerings. Be sure to apply to some of them….it is sometimes better to be wanted than to just be “accepted”. There are so many schools out there where the opportunities for learning and traveling and experiencing new academic adventures are too numerous to count. I agree with the Dalai Lama: “Sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck”. It will lead you down roads you never dreamed of. Not accepted by LaDeeDa College which has a 5% acceptance rate? You are in good company. Choose another path …and take an unexpected journey!