Helping students navigate college admissions and rejections

college students
Posted at 4:40 PM, Apr 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-05 22:44:20-04

Tracking the state of education and a big week for high school seniors with Ivy League dreams.

Tuesday, April 6, is known as "Ivy Day," when Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania let students know if they are in or out for the upcoming school year.

However, even for students applying to other colleges and universities, this can be a stressful and anxious time. The pandemic is only heightening what is already a competitive and emotional process.

"I think there's a lot more anxiety around admissions this year and because of that, we've actually seen a spike in applications schools have received," said Patti Miller, who is a college counselor with Collegewise.

"I think the well of resilience for them has to be tapped so it's just another thing that can be seen as stressful," she said.

Miller shared advice on three scenarios.

First, if a student does not get accepted, perspective is key in helping teens understand where this fits in the process of their lives.

"Bumps in the road are part of what we experience as we go through life and that none of the setbacks if they exist, are going to be the life-altering things that students may fear they are," said Miller. "Help them fall in love with the other schools on their list."

If a student is wait-listed, navigating this second scenario requires a bit of self-examination.

If so, Miller says consider calling the admissions office and asking for an update on the application. Send a letter of continued interest to the school and make sure to include any meaningful updates to the original application, things like a boost in GPA or added extracurriculars.

Finally, if a student is accepted, there are likely still big decisions ahead.

"How did the school's policies, how does the school's distance, other things that they offer, reflect what the student is looking for in a school," said Miller.

The college or university's handling of the pandemic could be a way to narrow options, but through it all, keep an open mind.

"The idea of one dream school really isn't the case," said Miller. "A student may have their heart set on one, but the reality is there are so many places where a student can find their home."