Once again, many colleges – both public and private – have been overwhelmed by the sheer number of applications. Many expressed surprise at the fact due to the economy. As a result of the increases, the colleges get to say "No" to more students. Let's face it, colleges love to report "acceptance rates". Of course the flip side of that is the "rejection rate". When a school like Harvard University reports an "acceptance rate" around 5-7%, you've got to remember that means that 93-95% are REJECTED. Even many public or "state" colleges and universities are getting more difficult. University of Maryland, here where I'm based, last year had an acceptance rate around 44%. That means 56% of those who applied were REJECTED.
Getting rejected is hard on students, there's no denying it. If your student is one of those who has been rejected or knows someone who did not get in, sometimes the rejection is due to circumstances beyond the student's control. One of the reasons some students who "should have gotten in" might not, can be something simple yet unexpected. If a college experienced a surge in applications, for example, a kid who would have been accepted last year all of the sudden this year does not make the grade. It happens. Again, sometimes beyond your control. And sometimes its not. If you've been rejected, and are wondering why, ask yourself, and answer honestly some of the following questions …
Were the schools on my list realistic options? Too many "reach" schools can mean more rejection. For example, if you had a CR / M SAT score of 1080 and the 50% range for the school was 1150-1320, that school was a reach. Was my application sent by the priority deadline? There is a reason they set priority deadlines and the kids that meet it are given priority consideration.
Did I communicate a clear, consistent message to help set me apart? Lack of focus in an application makes it harder for college admissions folks to say "Yes!" Was I able to articulate why and how that particular college was part of an overall plan for me? Again, that lack of focus might have had a role. Did I have a clear understanding of what goals the college has and how I, as part of the student body, could help them achieve those goals? If you had a solid understanding of the school and its future goals that might provide you with some insight as to why you did not get in.
Your Assignment: IF you experienced rejection, do not dwell on the colleges that did not accept you. You should self-examine to see if there were any mistakes or missteps on your part, so you can learn from them. This is important because in 4 or so years when you graduate, you're going to go through the same kind of process all over again, only it's most likely going to be companies you'll be applying to instead of colleges. Instead of pouting and fretting over the college that said no (their loss!), Celebrate and focus on the colleges that did accept you – after all, you did like them enough to apply which means you should have liked them enough to attend!
Juniors, doing some serious college planning NOW can help reduce the chances that you'll have to deal with trying to figure out why you were rejected from a particular college later. Parents, this is too important to your child's future success. You've worked too hard – do not put things off or do nothing at all. This is a defining moment in your child's life! Hoping for the best is simply not enough.