My grandfather used to tell a “story” about how when kids came home on their first vacation they thought their parents were so much smarter than they had been before they went off to college. My grandfather has been gone a long time but I was reminded of this story when I went out on fall travel this year. I long ago realized that both my parents are very smart and when I called them from the airport as I was leaving in September they reminded me to take a moment in my discussion each day for the families since this process is a tough one for them too. I took that to heart and tried to keep it in mind at every stop I made.
In a few days this year’s applicants will find out if they have been Admitted, Not Admitted, or Waitlisted for the Class of 2013 and I know you all are waiting for the news with as much interest as your kids are. But getting the “answer” is not the end of the journey. The next couple of months will not be easy since there are many decisions still to be made. Before things get really complicated I thought it might be worthwhile to offer some of my thoughts on the subject…so these are my “two cents”…
Admitted: Obviously this is the answer that all our applicants want to see when the decisions go live. If this is the message that your student receives I hope you’ll enjoy the moment. I certainly would were I in your place. Revel in it a bit, knowing that you can be very proud of your child. When I got my letter many years ago, I wasn’t certain who was more excited about it — my grandfather or me. When the dust settles, you’ll need to help your child make some tough decisions. But first, for a few days, just enjoy it.
Not Admitted: To get this answer will be difficult and perhaps a bit frustrating, but at least you will know that the wait is over. The first question students ask if they call our office after they have not been admitted is “what did I do wrong?” It tears at my heart to hear this because I know that they didn’t do anything wrong and have done so many things right that it’s easy to lose count of them all. Sadly we will ultimately say “no” to an amazing bunch of applicants. But those that we don’t admit will find they have great opportunities elsewhere. For that brief moment it may seem like the “end of the world” to them (and fodder for yet another college essay) but we hope they will quickly realize that they will be offered a place at another great school.
Waitlisted: In some ways this one is the most difficult answer to get. Every student on the waitlist is one that we know would be really great on our campus but just don’t have room for. It’s not something we do lightly but it can be very tough for the student. They are in a sort of limbo. This one requires a couple of choices, first accepting an offer of admission elsewhere — which all who are waitlisted should do — then deciding whether or not to stay on the waitlist. Remaining on a waitlist can be hard, giving your heart fully to one school, while still hoping to get in elsewhere and with really long odds. Waitlist variation from year to year (in this decade, one year we took more than 100 students from our waitlist, but three other years we took no one) makes it even more difficult to make the decision. Your support of your children through this period will be invaluable.
Helping your kids through this process, no matter what answer they get, has been a huge task. You’ve gotten them this far and you are to be congratulated for that. With your help they are ready to enter college in the fall and just in case they forget to tell you…thanks for all you’ve done!