If you’re a high school senior, you’ve already received offers of admission from one or more colleges, including, we hope, your top choice school. Most college applicants will have a dream school or two, and getting into your first choice school is gratifying and exciting. But… what if you don’t? With more applicants than seats, most colleges will end up disappointing more than a few hopeful high schoolers.
Let’s focus on the positives first: you were accepted into a college that you did spend time and energy applying to, and that college saw the value you’ll bring to the Class of 2020. So how do you get excited about your second choice? Let us help you feel the love.
1. Remember that admission isn’t an exact science
Sure, your pride will take a beating if you weren’t accepted to your top-choice school, but admissions officers aren’t using a precise formula… because there isn’t one. The admission committee’s evaluations will fluctuate from year to year, depending on their applicant pool. In any given year, a successful applicant might have ended in the declined or wait-listed pile, and a rejected applicant may have gotten in. Don’t spend your last semester of high school thinking you weren’t good enough or smart enough. The committee is looking for a well-rounded student body and that can take on different interpretations with every entering class.
2. Forget about the what-ifs
Just like it’s perfectly normal to nurse a bruised ego after a rejection, it’s equally tempting to wallow in the what-ifs of college admission. What if you’d been accepted to your dream school? What if that was the one and only true path to happiness, a lucrative career in astrophysics, and your own TV show with Neil deGrasse Tyson? First, it’s impossible to speculate on these things and if you’ll allow us to get a little metaphysical, life just doesn’t work that way. There isn’t only one sure path to success and happiness. More than that, you’re in charge of your own destiny, so pave your own path. If you start down the what-if rabbit hole, you won’t be satisfied with any outcome. Focus on the present, and better yet, embrace it.
3. Remember why you applied in the first place
You didn’t apply to all these colleges on a whim… right? Think back to the time you spent filling out your applications and writing essays. What made you apply to all of these schools? It might be having top research opportunities, an engaged student body with lots of clubs and organizations, an idyllic location in the rolling hills of North Carolina. Gather up all those positives and get excited. Each and every school will have opportunities to entice you and make you feel at home. And like we said before, you can always create your own. If you’re interested in ecology and want to start a beekeeping club, you can do that! If you haven’t already, add your school choice on Instagram and Snapchat, and join the incoming class Facebook page. You’ll see daily content to get you stoked before move-in.
Getting accepted to your first-choice school doesn’t guarantee the best college experience, it’s as much about what you choose to make of your experience as it is about fit. If you’re lamenting not getting accepted to an Ivy or similar highly-competitive colleges, remember that those schools admit a very small number of the overall college population, and that happy, successful graduates come from everywhere. If you’re committed to creating a great college experience for yourself, you’ll thrive anywhere.
Tell us your college admission stories! How did you work through the college choice process? Share your best tips with us.