Moving On After December
The last few weeks of December is an emotional roller coaster for some applicants. Since at least December 10th admissions decisions have been coming in for undergraduates who applied in early decision or early action programs and for MBA applicants who applied in the first round. I use the roller coaster metaphor because whether you have gotten good news or bad, you must now shift gears and think about what’s next.
If you were admitted in the early decision rounds then congratulations! Now you must decide if you want to apply to some other ‘dream’ colleges since you have one admission in hand? (of course if your decision is binding, this is not an option). To figure this out you will need to recall why you applied to these programs early – what appealed to you about them and have you learned anything new that has changed your perspective? You must also weigh your willingness to forgo other options with the work involved in applying to more colleges. Maybe you are satisfied enough with the choice you have and you want to focus on meeting the conditions of your offer (e.g. keeping your grades up) for the rest of the academic year.
If you were denied admission in the early round, do not despair. There are a few important bits of advice I want to share: 1.) Do not take this denial as a rejection of you as a person. The admissions processes, especially in the US, are holistic – the decisions do not hinge on any one thing, rather a complete profile of an applicant is considered in relation to what the college is looking for. Maybe the college just felt your application wasn’t a good fit, so move on. 2.) Do not compare yourself to others who got in. You really have no idea what went into their application and what was the ‘hook’ that reeled them into the “yes” pile of applications. Don’t put yourself through this torturous process of trying to understand what the other person had and you didn’t. And finally 3.) Do not act emotionally by lashing out at the college that rejected you, whether on facebook, twitter or bbm, it only makes YOU look bad. It is normal to be angry and the sense of injustice will be overwhelming, but wait. Give yourself time to see this decision rationally before you react.
Now it is time for you to decide what strategy to take next. The best advice is to spread out your chances in the next round. If you were rejected at a college that has a 7% acceptance rate, you would be foolish to now apply to more schools with a 7% acceptance rate. You would not be improving your odds at all. Instead choose colleges where the acceptance rate ranges from 40% (these are your safety’s) to around 12% (these are your reach colleges). If you work with this strategy you are increasing your chances from the last round of applications and your are likely to come out a winner somewhere. Of course, even for the safety colleges, only apply where you would actually want to go. There is no point wasting time on applications for colleges you do not want to attend just because you will get in. There a plenty of colleges with high admit rates that might be right for you. Choose the right safetys.
And finally, work fast! You only have a few days or weeks left until the early January deadlines! Spend your week off between Christmas and New Year’s filling in applications and writing essays for a bright start to 2013!