Ignore the Rumors Over College Rejection

By Kim Lifton
Wow Writing Workshop

This morning, I got an email from Robert McCullough, the Director of Undergraduate Admission from Case Western University, alerting college admissions professionals that applicants will find out admission status by 8 p.m. ET tomorrow night.

He also provided his phone number and email if any student, parent or high school counselor needs assistance.

It’s the season for final admissions offers of acceptance, and denials – and often the most confusing, the wait list. You’ll hear rumors (if you haven’t heard them yet!) about what to do if you get wait listed, or how you might be able to get a college to change its mind if you are rejected. There’s only one sure way to dispel rumors.

After more than a decade inside this industry, and following a career as a journalist and communications specialist, this much I know is true: It’s best to get your information direct from the source. Rumors are rumors. You’ll be better off if you ignore them, but I know that’s hard to do.

ON the Waitlist? Follow the Instructions

To help you put this all into some perspective, the University of Chicago sends instructions to students who are offered a spot on the wait list. Follow the instructions. If you want to pursue that option, give them what they ask for, no more and no less. That awesome video in which you plead your case for admission will not help if the school does not want it. Send a video only if the school tells you it is okay.

Case Western says to contact the office with questions. You can do that. You can ask them what is acceptable.

It’s a simple matter of Impossible Math

Keep in mind, the competition to get into the nation’s top colleges gets tougher every year, but that’s not because you are smarter or more qualified than any student was five or ten years ago.

It’s a simple matter of impossible math.

Year after year, more students apply for the same number of available spots at the most selective schools. It’s impossible for all of you to get into the same selective school. Just because you are qualified does not guarantee admission to any school on your dream list.

By the way, we hear the same rumors that you do. In fact, here are a few of these tall tales floating around now among the country’s high school seniors (and their parents.)

  • “Everyone” from one school got deferred from the University of Michigan.
  • Northeastern University rejected everyone.
  • My son didn’t get into (PUT NAME OF SCHOOL HERE) because they want more demonstrated interest on the application.
  • The kid with a 4.0 and 34 ACT score didn’t get admitted to the top school in her state. Everyone knows they don’t like our school.
  • It is harder to get into the University of Florida than Harvard.
  • Colleges only want well-rounded students.
  • Only the leaders get into the good schools.

What do you really know about that kid who says she has a 4.0 and 34 ACT and got rejected from your state’s top public university? She might have exaggerated. Did you see her SAT score, or did someone else share the information?

It’s important for you to know that colleges want a well-rounded student body, not well-rounded students. They want leaders and also followers. Some want demonstrated interest; others don’t care. Colleges and universities do not discriminate against certain high schools. And it is possible that a student with a high GPA and test score was caught drinking a beer by police, got suspended or simply turned the application in after the deadline. Or that student forgot to get the required recommendations.

Some of this is out of your control. While few students do get into the nation’s most selective schools, there are schools for everyone. We like to remind our students that the best school is the one they get into, attend and graduate from. It does not need to be a big name to be good.

Things are not always as they appear

Marty O’Connell, the executive director for Colleges That Change Lives, offers great perspective on the rumor mill. “Things are not always as they appear,” she said during a speaking engagement several years ago at Michigan State University. If she listened to every rumor, O’Connell might believe “no one is getting into college. It’s just not true.”

Want more insight from a senior admissions rep? Watch this video clip from Kimberly Bryant, Assistant Director of Admissions at the University of Michigan.

Kim Lifton is President of Wow Writing Workshop. Wow is a team of professional writers Kim Lifton can get a story out of anyone writing an effective college application essayand teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. The Wow Method has been used by students to write application essays and resumes; by business owners to create blogs, websites and other communication materials; and by English teachers to improve student writing skills. We can even help you write a great poem or short story. If it involves words, we can help! Email Kim@wowwritingworkshop.com.