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By Liz Jackson

This is the time of year when many seniors start to hear back from the colleges where they applied. We are, of course, rooting for you and hoping that all the news is positive! We also know that the college application process is one that typically entails at least a little bit of disappointment. If you haven’t gotten the news you hoped for, read on for some ideas for how to cope with bad news. 

Last year, we featured a blog on what to do if you aren’t admitted to your top-choice colleges, which you can find here. We recommend three steps: (1) indulge in a bit of wallowing (48 hours or less) and don’t feel bad about feeling bad! (2) Seek solace in the fact that you are not alone in feeling this way. (3)  Redirect your attention toward the terrific schools that have offered you admission – because it’s at one of these that you are probably going to spend four happy, growth-filled years.

What can sting so much about denials from colleges often has less to do with the fear that you won’t get to attend a great place and more to do with feeling like the denial is an outright rejection of who you are and all that you’ve accomplished. To some it can feel like a negative judgment of their entire identity.

It feels crazy to say that college admission decisions aren’t personal, because students have to put so much personal information into their applications, even writing essays about their most profound experiences!  But one of the best pieces of advice I can offer if you weren’t admitted is to remember that these decisions are not, in fact, personal.

Particularly at highly selective colleges, the vast majority of applicants are highly qualified and would be completely capable of succeeding if admitted. But there simply isn’t enough space to admit all of these incredible students, and admissions committees have to make difficult decisions that are often driven by factors totally outside the merit of any individual’s application.  

Remember that admissions committees are not tasked with finding the most accomplished individuals in an applicant pool. They are tasked with admitting a class of people who all bring different experiences and strengths to the college. For example, it may be much easier to be admitted to a college as an applicant from Wisconsin in a year when only four people from Wisconsin apply than a year when 40 apply.

Remember, you are not alone in feeling disappointment at this time of year. But we hope that you are also experiencing excitement, and we at Galin are so excited for your transition to college life, wherever it takes you!


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