“The redcoats are coming! The redcoats are coming!” And by that, we mean to say, “The college rejections are coming! The college rejections are coming!” Do we sound a bit negative? Maybe, but we’re just being factual. When only a small percentage of applicants at every highly selective college in America earns admission, logic teaches us that a whole lot of students will face deferral and rejection from the Early Decision / Early Action round. And come mid-December, we are flooded with parents reaching out to us, for the first time, because — much to their surprise and utter disappointment — their children did not get into their dream schools.
It never ceases to amaze us the misplaced confidence that so many parents have in their children. It’s sweet, we guess. But we don’t believe parents and students should live in the clouds. They should live here on earth. In the real world. The vast majority of applicants to highly selective colleges don’t get in and yet, from our years of experience, the vast majority of parents believe their children should get in and, in many cases, will get in (side note: these are parents and students we don’t work with). But then reality strikes when colleges, typically at the end of the first week of December and through mid-December release their Early Decision / Early Action decisions. It can hurt. It can feel like an affront to all a parent knows to be true in the world.
These are often parents and students who didn’t think they needed help to get into a highly selective college. Or maybe they sought out the wrong kind of help since, like in any profession, the vast majority of private college counseling firms aren’t particularly good. It takes working with a lot of plumbers to find a great one, right? And on the day that these parents and students grapple with this deferral or rejection, we don’t wish to speak with them. They’re too emotional. But we will speak with them the next day, when they’ve had some time to digest the decision and think about what they can do in the next few weeks to significantly improve their odds of not getting this same kind of news in the Regular Decision round. Because, yes, lots can be changed in just those few seemingly short weeks. Lots.
But to the parents of middle schoolers, freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, we hope you don’t fall into this category as it’s entirely avoidable. Start early. Students should use their Early Decision / Early Action cards wisely and submit the best possible applications to those schools. Earn admission to Harvard or Stanford because then you don’t have to apply in the Regular Decision round to Duke. Sorry, Duke. We didn’t mean to pick on Duke. But if you get into Harvard, you’re not going to Duke. After all, Duke is “The Harvard of the South.”