The Morning After: What Went Wrong? SATs? College App Essays?

This is a highly emotional and consequential week for tens of thousands of students in the U.S. and around the world, as early decision and early action news reaches households. There will be a lot of joy — and a lot of disappointment. If you’re reading this, I’m guessing there is more sorrow than celebration.

There are so many hyper-qualified students now in the US and throughout the world, and so few places at the most selective colleges and universities that many – thousands and thousands – of highly qualified students are turned down.

Admissions officers at top universities say that 80 percent of the applicants can do the work at these colleges. Everyone who gets in is a top student, but decisions are made based on many other factors, including your race, your zip code, the sports you do or don’t, the instrument you play, and where you live in the country and the world. Being a top student is necessary but not sufficient, and being turned down is NOT evidence of failure or a sign that you could have done anything “better.”

Many students have prepared in advance for an ED/EA rejection or deferral by having their next round of applications ready to send out. Many others have not, and still others have done some work on applications, but not all.

One frequent question students and families have is whether their applications, including essays, supplements, and activities lists, can be improved for the second round of admissions. Yes, of course, there’s always a chance work can be improved.

If you’ve been deferred, what can you do and what should you do?

If you want to continue being considered for College #1, you can plan to write a letter in late January or early February updating any information that you didn’t include in your original application. If you’re able to, you can spruce up your application with awards, new projects, or advances in ongoing projects.

A deferral IS a sign of hope but don’t count on it. Few students are deferred at Stanford. Of those who are deferred, only about 15 percent get in. That is, 85 percent do not. Make other plans!

ED 2 If you have another college where you can and want to apply ED 2, go for it. Why? Hard as it is to believe, colleges want you to want them as much as you want them to want you. When you elect binding Early Decision 1 or 2, you are helping the college decide in your favor, because they know you will say YES to them if they say YES to you. Got it?

If you’re not ready to commit to a college by going ED 2, make sure your remaining applications are as strong as they can be.

I am happy to review your ED/EA applications and make suggestions for any improvements. I am also happy to help with additional essays you might need to write and to review your activities list.

Please email me or call (EAST COAST):

PHONE: 1-855-9-ESSAY

Pick up the phone or better yet, send me an email ….