Accepted’s college admissions expert, Whitney Bruce, responds to Suzy Lee Weiss’s Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, “To (All) the Colleges That Rejected Me.”
When I work with high achieving students, as I presume Suzy Lee Weiss to be, we talk about failure. To the straight-A, student leader, it’s often a foreign concept in 11th grade. Such students have worked hard and been justly rewarded for their intelligence and their efforts. When I worked in college admissions, I used to visit Taylor Allderdice High School; the school has many such motivated and talented students.
For these students, March can indeed be the cruelest month. The low acceptance rates to many of the most selective colleges are staggering. As a counselor, I’m finding it harder and harder to identify great colleges for my students who have everything going for them, but as Ms. Weiss essentially admits, don’t walk on water. They’ve excelled in the classroom and made a difference in their community. But in the age of increasing applications, there are simply too many of them, capable of succeeding on these highly sought after campuses for most to receive an offer of admission.
As awful as it seems, when faced with fewer options than one might hope, especially in comparison to peers, it’s important to put the disappointment behind you. For a day or two, cry, groan, and complain to your parents about what might have been. Then look to the future.
The college you choose to attend this month will become your home for the next four years and an affiliation for a lifetime. Six months ago, this college received your application because you, the student, felt like it was a good fit. It still is. Embrace your college choices, order the sweatshirt, and be proud of all you have accomplished in high school.
By Whitney Bruce, who has worked in college admissions since 1996. She has served as a Senior Assistant Director of Admissions (Washington U), Application Reader (University of Michigan), Assistant Director of College Counseling (private prep school in St. Louis), and an independent college counselor. She is happy to advise you as you apply to college.