The Importance of Checking Spam Folder During Admissions Process

College applicants should check their spam folders. Important communications from colleges may very well be inside.

We recently undercut an argument that it’s important for college applicants to respond to a school’s mass emails as a way of demonstrating interest. The argument was, of course, ridiculous. Imagine replying to every mass email sent by Costco: “Thank you for all of the fantastic information about your Gala apples. They look delicious. So too do your Delicious apples. I appreciate all that you do in selling great apples, Costco.” But on the subject of receiving emails from colleges, we thought we’d share with our readers a story. So gather round as we have a tale to tell, a tale with a valuable lesson.

An Important Lesson from a Transfer Student’s Tale

Once upon a time, we had a student who was applying as a transfer to colleges. All of the colleges to which she was applying were much more selective than her then-current institution and many, she knew, were likely out of reach. But since we worked with this student under our Unlimited Package, we were ok with her including a few schools that were out of reach. It’s not like she was wasting an Early Decision / Early Action card on an out-of-reach school; there is no Early round for transfers. So why not?

As many of our readers know, the transfer admissions process can be tougher than the process high school students go through — a process that one would think couldn’t get any tougher! Over the years, we’ve had many transfer students earn admission to their dream schools but they might get into a Yale without getting into a Johns Hopkins. And while that is not uncommon for many college applicants (often because they fail to demonstrate to Johns Hopkins they want to be a Blue Jay over all else and Johns Hopkins is led to believe the student will get into a more competitive school and choose to go there), it is uncommon for our non-transfer students since our students at Ivy Coach don’t make such mistakes.

But our transfer students may very well go 4/10 or 12/20 in admissions. Maybe they get into Yale but get rejected by Penn, Columbia, and Cornell. And when they get into Ivy League schools, well, we make no apologies. That might be 1/4 but the student got into Yale so the rest is absolutely meaningless! And our students wouldn’t seek an apology anyway since we express these very sentiments — that one can get into an outstanding school as a transfer but they’re not going to go, say, 20/20 — to them before our prospective transfer students ever sign up with us.

And so we return to the story of our transfer student. Her first five decisions? All rejections. While we didn’t relay our feelings to her since that would only make her nervous, we were nervous. And we’re rarely nervous. We’re ultimately not privy to the student’s recommendations? Could a professor have written a scathing letter? It couldn’t be. What was it? And then the next three decisions came in. Again, they were rejections. 0/8. We lost sleep. We started overanalyzing the student’s applications, some of the very best applications one of our student’s has ever submitted.

Then came the email: “Oops, I forgot to check my spam. There were two acceptances in there. Sorry!” She forgot to check her spam. She had been admitted to two of our nation’s most elite universities. She relayed to us the rejections but not the acceptances. And we lost sleep over it, sleep we’ll never get back. But, hey, it made her offers of admission all the sweeter. So the lesson? When applying for college admission, always check your spam folder. If nothing else, it’ll save the people who care about you and your case for admission lots of anxiety.

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