Early Action and Early Decisions are coming in this week, so in a few days—this Thursday, December 21st—you should know if you got into your dream school…or not.
While your emotions are probably running very high, no matter what happens, there are important next steps. And as always, I’m here to break it down for you!
Scenario #1) YOU GOT IN! WOOHOOOO!
THAT’S AMAZING! I'm SO proud of you! You friggin’ ROCK!
Seriously, you must be feeling SO ELATED, and you have every right to be! You got your test scores together early, stayed on top of your grades, wrote a killer essay for the Common App (or non-Common App application), and crafted some seriously nuanced and authentic supplemental essays.
Take a deep breath! You know where you’re going to school next year! Pressure’s off!
And after you have you do finals, take your mini-breather, have holiday break… get back to work…on your academics, that is.
Yep, I’m so sorry to be the bearer of annoying news, but while you can let go of the excruciating perfectionism (and seriously, let that one go for good, while you’re at it!), please don’t do anything to completely and utterly screw up all of your hard work!
Like, getting an A- when you’re used to straight A’s is okay, or even getting your first B might be shocking but survivable, but don’t think of all of a sudden running straight C’s or flunking a final! I’ve totally known of students to get in early and have their acceptances revoked after barely passing trigonometry.
As far as applying to other schools, I wouldn’t bother. You have my permission to forego the half-written supplemental essays of the rest of your college list! Just don’t screw it up.
Scenario #2) You got Rejected
Awwww, bummer. I feel truly upset for you, because I know how much you wanted to go to that dream school. Let yourself cry or take a kick-boxing class to blow off your anger.
But being rejected isn’t as bad as it seems, because you’re not in limbo. In fact, if you were downright denied, consider it a blessing! Here’s why: you wouldn’t have been a good fit for that college or university in the first place. Remember, it’s not about being “good enough” or “not good enough,” it’s about being a fit.
Wouldn’t you rather attend a school that proactively WANTS you and will accommodate you and maybe even throw money at you?
Unfortunately, it's going to take another round of work to find that new perfect fit. Specifically, you need to take special care of the rest of your applications, pouring yourself into them more than you think you poured yourself into your dream school’s application. Yes, you only have a couple (or a few) weeks to do it in, but give yourself that time. You take get a massage when your last application is in on January 1st or 10th.
And for the love of God, make sure you have a few “safety” schools in there—because a lot of what you think is a “safety” might not be so safe!
OK, now you can get that massage.
Scenario #3) You got Deferred
While I completely understand that you’re probably feeling gutted right now, we need a strategy session, STAT. Because while you feel like being deferred is a rejection, it ISN’T. It just means that your application will be held and considered with the rest of the school’s regular decision applications. I’ve known plenty of students who initially got deferred from their ED or EA schools and later got in.
But you DO have some work ahead of you.
For starters, make sure the rest of your applications and supplements are finely tuned and spot-on. They will actually matter! Write them as if you did get rejected and really actually want to go to each and every one of the other schools on your list. Submit them all by their respective deadlines (preferably before they’re actually due). Hopefully you get a few days still of your holiday break to relax.
Next, find out from the college representative if they need anything from you. This could be updated (i.e. “better”) test scores, a deferral letter (read on), more letters of recommendation, or even a particular form to fill out. Whatever they say, FOLLOW DIRECTIONS! If they request you don’t submit anything, please resist the urge or you’ll ruin your shot at regular decision success.
Then, remember how involved you were with all your extracurriculars and grades during junior year and during the fall semester? You do? Good. Because if more is required of you, basically need to keep up that pace. Sorry!
In fact, now that applications aren’t taking up more of your time, you should double down! Need better test scores (and are given the opportunity to retake them)?! DO THEM! Always wanted to start a diversity club at your school? Do it. Want to start a Feminism club at your all-boy private school and create campaigns to raise awareness of male privilege? DO IT!
Then in late February, write a nice, detailed, respectful letter (a “deferral letter”) to your dream school’s regional admissions counselor—basically, the person who looks at all the applications from your city or state—telling them a) how committed you still are to their school, b) why the school and you is such an amazing fit (kind of like a “Why This College?” essay, and c) all the updates of things you’ve done and achieved since you submitted your early application. The trick is to make sure you actually have impressive things to update them on!
Finally, if you haven’t already, go visit the college! Take a tour, sit in on classes, talk with the admissions team. Let them SEE how committed you are to getting in!
You’d be surprised how much these actions can help your application.
I actually helped a super passionate and intelligent student a few years back who got deferred from Stanford. Let’s call him Caleb. Caleb’s deferral lit a spark under his butt unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The moment he came back from holiday break in January, he finished his remaining applications. Then he started a feminism club at his prestigious all-male private school. Not only that, he initiated a social media campaign to get almost every boy in his school to announce why they needed feminism via pictures. It was beautiful and touching and actually garnered media coverage because of the momentum it generated. He also continued to take the most challenging classes offered at his school and raised his grades in almost all of them…in addition to his All-American sport team participation.
Caleb wrote all these updates into a respectful and optimistic letter to the university’s dedicated admissions officer for his school. And you know what happened? Come April, he got his acceptance letter in the mail! If you follow my steps and step up your game, so can you.
So, I hope I’ve helped you celebrate, grieve, and/or pick yourself back up for the final stretch of college application hustle! Remember, if you need any help, you can contact me here.