“Congratulations!” the letter begins. In this last week of March, as the wind blows, all college applicants will be receiving their admission decision letters. Schools used to be so predictable. A fat envelope meant you were in, a business letter meant that you were not. These days, notification might arrive in a way that surprises you.
Students today might be notified by e-mail that they are in. And, sometimes the business envelope does not say “denied,” but rather, “wait-listed.” That’s not all bad, but whatever the size of the envelope, our students are both eager and anxious.
At the end of the day, they will each have many choices because we made sure that our students applied to at least one school where they are assured acceptance, in addition to several schools where admission is more competitive. We reassure them that all their choices are good because a good education can be had anywhere.
While students often notify us as soon as they open their envelopes, sometimes they party first then let us know later. Sometimes, they wait until all the results are in and then send us the spreadsheet! However they do it, we want to be in the loop because the next part of the acceptance process is making the decision and that often requires some counsel.
At this time of year, students are guaranteed to hear from each of their applicant schools by April 1 of their senior year. By May 1, the students are obligated to reply to their one favorite school for admissions. If you think it was hard for the colleges to make their final selections, wait until it’s your turn to choose which college you will accept!
Sometimes our students get a fat envelope from their favorite school and a merit scholarship from their second choice school. A gift of money is all it takes to put an otherwise decided student in a quandary. What should the student do? Pay full price for University A or take the scholarship at College B? And then comes the wait list. Just when you thought you would certainly be rejected, you get a letter that says you might be reconsidered in a month or more. This can also confuse a student’s decision making.
So often, students want this day to come, but just as quickly, they want it to pass. Happy is the student who only applied to three or four schools. Their decision will be much easier than the ambitious student who applied to seventeen. Imagine having a dozen acceptances, all of them at great schools with different plus points! What an abundance of riches. What a difficult choice to make.
We can help with the decision making because we prioritize the list in a way that makes sense to the student and the family. But now it's time celebrate—the wait is finally over. Congratulations to all the wonderful college-bound students out there!