College Counseling & Planning      Orleans, MA. (774) 801-2449      Ashland, OR. (541) 488-0919
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COLLEGE DECISION LETTER. FAT OR THIN ENVELOPE - WHICH WILL IT BE? April 1st marks the date when colleges start mailing their decision letters. It is a time coupled with gut wrenching dread and light-headed anticipation. It is a time for a reality check, introspection and decision-making. The letter will contain one of three decisions: accepted, denied, or wait-listed and will elicit one of three reactions: elation, shock or indignation.

After the dust settles, it is in the best interest of students and parents to come to grips with the reality of the decision. The happiest situation, of course, is to be accepted by all the colleges to which you applied. If this should happen, review your priorities, choose the best one, give a sigh of relief and then get going on the next homework assignment - grades still count! (And, don't gloat over your good fortune - others may not be so lucky.)

But, let's be honest, this is usually not the case. So how do you react to the denials? First, let me stress, a denial is not the end of the world. Although it is a hard pill to digest, a denial likely means that a student was not as qualified for the institution as the competition. Once the tears, anger and disappointment have subsided it will help to look at the denial as a favor. Although you want to be challenged in college you really don't want to go to a college where you have to struggle every day (and every weekend) to keep your head above water. If that pill is too bitter, then the second reason probably won't sit too well either. It is possible that a well-qualified applicant submitted a poorly prepared application, which hurt him or her in the reading phase of the admission process. A review of your application may reveal grammatical or spelling mistakes, typing errors, sloppiness, a negative tone or content, a poorly written essay, or a lack of enthusiasm for the college. If this is the case, then accept the reality that you messed up and move on. Finally, a pill you can swallow. There are elements beyond your control that impact the institutional decision such as: the college's overall application pool, its expectations of yield (the percentage of admitted students who choose to attend), the needs of the of the class make-up (a tuba player versus a baton twirler), its restrictions on admitting out-of-state students, dorm and classroom space and many other reasons beyond your imagination.

If wait-listed, you have a few choices: first, you need to choose from the schools to which you have been accepted and send in the deposit, second you need to decide if you want to pursue the wait-listed school by showing continued interest and third, you can let the school know that you are no longer interested and wish to be taken off the list.

Whatever the mail brings - fat or thin - keep reminding yourself (students and parents alike) that although this is all very big on your radar screen right now the final decision usually turns out for the best. If you have done your homework well, your remaining choices should all be perfect places for you to spend the next four years of your life.
Judith Christie
College Planning Consultants