Hamilton Gregg is the founder of International Educational Consulting and has worked in education since 1985. He helps students and their families understand their personal and educational needs and find the right school to meet their requirements. If you are a student or parent who would like to ask Gregg a question on our blog, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We are winding down with university decisions. The final letters will be arriving no later than Tues, 1 April, (an odd date given it is April Fool’s Day.) As decisions come in there will be mixed feelings; some pain and some joy. While the initial enthusiasm generated 10 or so months ago by researching schools, reading websites and prospectuses is now a distant memory; the logical conclusion to the application process is now hitting hard – Accepted, Denied or Wait Listed – no matter what the decision: Congratulations! You have made it to the end; the future awaits you.
For many students, the application process has been a first true investigation of self. The first time you will have looked at your hopes, your desires and expressed all those ideals on paper. (Well not anymore thanks to electronic applications.) Outside of examinations or the occasional class debate, this is the first time another group of people have evaluated who you are. It takes a lot of courage to write personal anecdotes for strangers to assess. Along with the hard facts of your grades, test scores and letters of recommendation, someone is making a judgment on you as a person as well as a student. When all is said and done it can feel personal, but trust me when I say that it’s not at all personal when a university denies your admission. You may have been an admissions officer’s top choice, but when the committee came together, your file moved from the possible admit pile to one of the other piles.
To understand this it’s important to remember a few things. Firstly, not just one person evaluated your application. There is typically a committee of people reviewing applications. Secondly, you are not the only person applying to a school. There are many factors a school needs to consider when processing applications: Other students, institutional priorities, community of the school etc. All the while, the committee is "building" a class. There are so many factors that go into the process that, at some point, the decision is no longer about you as an individual but you as part of a greater whole.
After all your hard work applying to a school and the anticipation from months of waiting, you are obviously invested in the ultimate decision. There are others invested as well, parents, family members, friends and teachers. It’s easy to think that you have "let them down", or that your hopes and dreams are dashed, when you are denied a place at a school, but the reality could not further from the truth.
Being rejected is a hard truth of life. Girlfriends and boyfriends will reject you, friends will disappoint you, and future employers will deny you a place in their company. These are hard situations to confront. We all put expectations in the processes we engage in, whether it is asking someone out on a date or applying to schools. Some of those expectations are reasonable and some are beyond our capabilities. In either situation it can be just as hard to accept a negative answer.
If you have been denied admission to your top-rated school, let me offer my condolences. What do you do now? Well, maybe you cry a little, and share your feelings with your parents and friends. But don’t get angry, that serves no purpose. Once you have let go of the feelings, re-assess what you have. I hope that you have some other great options, but perhaps they will take some re-investigation. If your list of schools was appropriate in the first place, it should have a number of great schools on it. Go back to your research and remember why those schools were on your list in the first place. Look again at what they offer in terms of academics, community and opportunities to further your academic future. Go find the educational gem of your future. There are still fantastic schools out there and I hope you have been admitted to one of them.
As cowboys say, “When you fall off the horse, you have to get back on.” So while there is pain in being rejected, the world is still yours for the taking. Make the most out of what you do have and go become the best you can be.
I listened to a short video the other day about a man whose perspective I admire. The title of the video was “This Man Has $86,400 He Has to Spend Every Day.” The reality was that he actually has 86,400 seconds to spend everyday. Then he gets to start all over again the next day. What a luxurious perspective on life. How are you going to spend the next 86,400 seconds of your life? Will you make the most out of each second or will you cry over the injustices of the world? How will you use these precious moments to create fantastic experiences and opportunities in your life?
When I applied to university so many years ago, I was denied at my top choice. Well, in reality several of my top choices. In the end I was accepted to my State institution. My feelings were hurt but I did not let that get in the way of my future. When the time was right, I applied to a school for my graduate program, (I applied to only one graduate school) Harvard School of Education. The time was right and I was ready. My point is that if the path you had hoped for seems to be gone, it is not. You just need to take a divergent path. Keep working hard, accept what you have and make the most out of it. You will be fine.
For those of you who were accepted, and are still reading, congratulations! Go forth and enjoy. Remember that there are others out there, maybe your friends or peers who need to think about their future in a new light. So remember be joyful but also gracious and supportive.
Photo courtesy of flickr