Up or Out

Today is the day.  I’ve been waiting for the day that I am pushed over the edge. I’m there. On the outside, I appear put together, a loving wife and mother, and the do everything kind of person.  Well, I’m officially broken.  Why you ask? College admissions.  If ever there was a more depressing time in my life it is now.  The admissions process is a game. Sadly, not just a game our kids are playing but parents are forced to play too.  I read article after article on college admissions and as a former admissions professional, I can tell you there isn’t anything like the game we play today.  It is definitely a game and most of us didn’t choose to play but we were sucked right into it.  Our kids do everything right. They set their eyes on a goal and do everything right hoping to land the big prize.  The prize of course being an admissions letter welcoming them to “the” university.   Do admissions reps know what happens after a student receives the denial?  Let’s face it, denied is just a nicer way of saying rejected.  It’s not the end of the world.  Or is it?

There are key facts about the college admissions process. Some may see it as true and others as post rejection frustration and I’ll admit, it’s a little of both.

  1. It is indeed a game and your opponent is likely some under thirty wanna be who holds the future of your family in his hands.  He isn’t working at his Alma mater but somehow managed to get hired and entrusted with the responsibility of reviewing applications he himself couldn’t prepare and is now making another person’s life a living hell during the waiting process.

  2. Admissions counselors are not completely honest.  They are told to encourage every student to apply even if that student is not qualified because it will increase the University admissions stats (we can thank US New & World Report for that).  Some applicants are just another way for the university to improve their acceptance rate.

  3. The truth is the ever important essay will not be read if the applicant doesn’t pass the numbers test. Applicants will be told about the “holistic” approach and encourage students to write about their personal experiences but the truth is, if the applicants SAT/ACT score and GPA are not up to par, the essay won’t ever get looked at.  So if you’re border line, that’s when the essay will make it or break it for you and the application goes into the “read” pile.  The applicant who makes it past the “numbers review” and placed in the “read” pile will only stand a chance if they are in the upper echelon of applications.  Colleges are denying wonderfully qualified students.  Unfortunately, too many students are applying to too many colleges they have no intention of attending (we can thank the Common App for that).  Colleges have no way of knowing what the applicants #1 school is and therefore, must gamble and hope they are selecting the student who will enroll.  The truth its, high school counselors must do a better job and limit the number of applications from their schools.  If a student can’t afford College A ($70k per year) he shouldn’t be applying to College A.  The truth is, College A offers a very limited number of merit awards and those go to the Top 3% of applicants.  So let the Valedictorians apply, otherwise cough up the dough or don’t apply.  Those applicants are taking a spot away from a student who meets the admission criteria and has the money to pay in full. This is true for many schools.  Students should be limited to six applications and they should be required to rank their selections.  Period!

  4. Suck up to your admissions representative.  Yes, SUCK UP! Don’t send gifts because ethically the representative shouldn’t accept them but do send emails and ask lots of questions.  Attend every high school visit and stop by and say hello when you’re on campus.  Make sure your admissions rep knows you and your name.  Why you ask? That person may actually go to bat for you during the admission review phase because you are well liked.  Even if you have the highest scores and are graduating top in your class you may need a little love during the screening process. Don’t take things for granted.  Now a days, there are no “safety schools”.  Just when you thought you were safe, the rejection arrives in the mail and if your safety school happens to win a National Championship, you better believe it’s position as a safety school just jumped up 10 notches.

  5. A true sign “is this school right for you” will be shown through the actions of the representative visiting your school or delivering the admissions presentation. Maybe you’ve attended EVERY presentation that rep has given for the last three years, visited campus every summer since sophomore year and you think your “buddy” the admission rep feels the same way about you.  Then the test…he shakes your hand at the admissions presentation in the fall of your senior year and says, “it’s nice to meet you”.  Are you kidding me? Do your job Admissions Rep and at least pretend you know your students who have shown interest in you for the past three years.  Pretend you know their name.  Pretend you’re interested.

    Here’s some free advise for every Admissions Officer out there.  It’s easy. Print a list from your handy database and read it before you arrive. Take a look at who has signed up to meet you, who has visited your esteem campus and who have you met with during your high school visits.  It’s elementary my friend.  All admissions reps should know this but some just don’t care because they have forgotten what it feels like to be on the other end of the application. Some schools are just so snobby it leaves me wondering, is this our future?  Well yes, it is.  We talk about entitlement and this is it.  We blame the youth but these reps are the youth.  God help us all!




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