I was presenting to parents of high school juniors last night at Yorktown High School in Arlington, VA. They were a great crowd (meaning, they laughed at my jokes – clearly a mark of an intelligent and discerning group), but MAN were they STRESSED. I closed with my favorite two pieces of advice about the admissions process:
1) Don’t take this process personally. I mean, seriously, we don’t know you. I realize that every school you visit claims they won’t treat you like a number, and they want to know the “real” you, and they have come to care deeply about you (no, not just your parents checkbook. No. Really.). Even so, when they’re reading two bazillion (that’s a very high number – you’ll learn about it in your very advanced math classes) applications, things will kinda run together. So you need to know – whether you get admitted or denied – it’s not really about YOU. It’s about that bunch of stuff you sent: your grades and courses and scores and maybe some stuff you wrote and a couple of other people wrote about you. Before you get your admission decisions, put all that stuff together and take a look for yourself. Is that you? Of course not! Admissions officers aren’t your parents, your teachers, or your friends. We’re not even that guy you periodically see lurking near your school (at least, I hope not). It’s a bunch of people, maybe one or two of whom you might have met once or twice, who are going to read your application. If they deny you, they’re denying that application, not you. You they don’t know. You are still the same very cool person you were before us boneheads made our decision.
2) So if all that’s true, then don’t get all caught up in any one school (except maybe Mason. No not really. Ok, maybe a little). Apply to a few that are in your range, any of which will be great for you. And bear in mind, most schools will be great for you. That’s what colleges and universities do. We’ve had years and years of figuring out how to educate you while still allowing you to have a reasonably good time. Let’s face it – there really aren’t all that many schools that totally suck.
So – don’t take it personal, and don’t get hung up. Also, try to find some fun in this process. There is fun to be had – more about that later. In the meantime, relax – you’re going to be fine. Be seeing you.
PS – One of my colleagues sent a note last night after I posted asking if I really believed that decisions were NEVER personal. Good point! It’s true that many admissions officers will have that one student they met on the road, saw at a fair, or met on campus, who they really want to admit, and will stretch for them. I suspect it’s rare, but surely possible, that some really mean nasty admission officers decide they just don’t like some applicant and try to sink their chances. From my perspective, that still leaves you, the applicant, in the same boat. Whether your skilled sucking up makes you a counsellor’s pet, or leaves them filled with loathing, it’s still about someone they likely met just briefly.
Now there are even rarer exceptions, such as when someone you really do know is an admissions officer, maybe even a family member. Fair enough, then it’s going to feel pretty darn personal. At that point, should they deny you, I would definately take them off your holiday card list. Unless, of course, you’re a really awful student. In that case, give them a break – you probably don’t want anybody to risk their job over your past performance. But why should I bother writing about that? No reader of THIS blog has a weak academic record…right?
Filed under: Admissions, Applications, College, College Admissions, Deadlines, Education, Family, George Mason University, Grades, High School, Life, Parents, SAT, University | Tagged: Admissions, admit, College, deny, Education, Family, Life, Stress, University |