top of page

The Admissions Decision Letter - A Funny Valentine

The majority of Early Decision, Early Action, and rolling offers are out, while Regular Decision fates are released in March. During this admissions limbo, we at Admit U want to take a few minutes to slow down and reflect on what it all means.

What if I don’t get into my first-choice college? 

What if my best friend does, but I don’t? 

What will my parents think? 

We want our students to remember that the colleges you do (or do not) get into are not a reflection of your self-worth—it’s a subjective decision that often considers factors that are out of your control. Your ultimate admissions decision is more of a reflection of that college’s institutional goals than a commentary on your personal value. 

College admissions is often referred to as enrollment management, the strategy by which colleges recruit and enroll a class of students who: (1) reflect diverse academic, extracurricular, and demographic profiles, (2) will be successful academically, (3) will fit the personality and guiding philosophy of the college, and in many cases, (4) will be able to help pay for it. 

So, what does that mean? 

It’s not about you! It’s about them and how they need to develop a freshman class that will retain (i.e. return sophomore year), that will be interesting and uniquely accomplished, and be able to help pay the bills. (Those high-tech science labs, that rock wall, and the new sushi station in the dining hall aren’t going to pay for themselves!) 

Colleges have to manage these competing priorities, and sometimes, your profile may be on the short end of that transaction. But we’re here to remind you—most times, you will be on the winning end! Thousands of colleges have acceptance rates over 50 percent, but the media (and your friends, cousins, neighbors) tend to focus on those elusive few with rates well below that. (The highly rejective colleges, as they have been coined). So the odds are in your favor!  

Other factors that have changed the landscape of college admissions include The Common Application, whose ease of application has led to over-applying as students tend to add schools “just to see what happens” or because they are nervous they won’t get in anywhere. Similarly, the move to test-optional admissions has also falsely inflated students’ hopes of being accepted to a college. (News flash: If your test scores are not in range for that college and you apply test-optionally, they will put more weight on the other academic factors in your profile, like course rigor and grades). 

The convenience of applying and test-optional admissions all contribute to inflated application numbers and drive down admissions rates because colleges can only enroll a set amount of students. Just last year, the University of Maryland reported that it received 55,000 applications for 4,500 spots in the freshman class. And just last month, Rutgers University reported a 65 percent increase in applications with no plans to increase the incoming class size. (We will let you do that math). In turn, decreasing admissions rates lead to media hype and increased anxiety of “getting in.” So if you do not get in, you might just be a victim of statistics, and it might have nothing to do with the quality of your application, your accomplishments, or your self-worth. 

But on the other hand, it might have something to do with you. Based on your application, colleges determine if their institution will be a good fit for you; they may deny students who they think will be more successful and able to thrive somewhere else. Regardless of how much time and effort you put into your applications, your school work, and your testing plan, the college admissions process still comes down to someone else’s decision and we have to trust it. 

In this season of love and valentines, let’s use that as an example. Applying to college is like online dating. You surf their fancy website, you visit their pretty campus, you interact with the admissions rep, and learn all about this potential object of your affection. Once you’ve decided it is worthy of you, you develop a shiny package of your academic and extracurricular accomplishments, you write love letters (i.e. essays) about your passions, thoughts, and why you want to date said college. You nervously hit submit. And then you wait… for either reciprocation or rejection. 

And sometimes it’s a match—your college wants to begin a relationship with you and embark on a journey of growing together as you ride off into the sunset! And then sometimes, they’re just not that into you. They appreciate your application and acknowledge your accomplishments, but they just don’t feel the connection and know it is best to let you go find that perfect match somewhere else. 

Of course, that initial rejection is disappointing, maybe heartbreaking. But stop and think—don’t you want to be with someone who wants you? No one wants to be the desperate type trying to beg their way into college and pining over a love that never was! Focus instead on the other colleges trying to date you—the colleges that accepted you (who shower you with swag and merit money)! Be with someone who wants to be with you. 

There are lots of other fish in the sea; the same works for colleges. We can’t tell you how many stories we’ve heard of students who either get into their top choice and aren’t happy, or who don’t get into their top choice and are happier than they ever dreamed at their fourth-choice school. It really boils down to what you make of your college experience. 

To the parents out there, some of whom may be even more stressed than your kids—our advice to you is to realize that it will all work out! Your job is to make sure your kids realize this too. If a letter comes back not offering admission, there is no need to overanalyze “what went wrong” or strategize if there is someone to email to figure out a way around it. Be positive! Recognize that it’s the college’s loss—not your child’s—and continue to be their cheerleader as you excitedly explore opportunities at colleges where they did receive an acceptance. 

To our students, you will be okay, and no matter what, you will find success in whatever way you define it. We’ve worked with so many kids and we know it to be true for each one. We promise. 


- The Admit U Team

Contributing author:

Alison Grill has been a College Counselor with Admit U for over 12 years and a high school counselor for 14 years. Her work in competitive public school districts as well as an independent consultant gives her a breadth of expertise in working with students and families with diverse backgrounds, talents, and circumstances.

Follow Admit U on Instagram and connect with us Facebook!


bottom of page