January 31st, 2019
BY GERALD M. BRADSHAW
Bradshaw College Consulting
Dear Mr. Bradshaw,
My application has been rejected by several top colleges and I am confused. I have yet to hear from any Ivy League schools, and at this point it looks as though I will end up at the University of Michigan which is my safety school. I have been accepted there. I have a 4.250 GPA, 1500 on the SAT. I am ranked fifth in my class and have an impressive list of extracurricular activities. Where did I go wrong? I was aware of the admissions challenges at top schools and did everything I could do to tailor my academics to meet their stringent requirements.
A very upset student
Rejection from top schools shouldn't deter students from excelling elsewhere
Dear Upset Student,
It is that time of year again when college acceptance letters are coming in for high school seniors. Along with the joy of acceptance comes the disappointment of the rejected. I have received a number of emails asking the same question: “Why was I rejected?
I understand why you are confused and wondering what more you could have done. It is OK to feel disappointed but do not dwell on it. Do not take it personally because colleges are turning down qualified applicants in record numbers. All is not lost — your college experience is what you make it and opportunities abound if you keep your eyes open. There is ample research that second-choice colleges are often a “better fit.”
Remember that your GPA performance was being measured against the small, insular world of your high school classmates. The quality of your application essays and your extracurricular activities are taken into consideration along with your grades and test scores. While you did well in school on the basis of your grades and test scores, you are now being compared to a much wider spectrum of students — a global composite with resumes of achievement approaching near perfection.
More importantly, do not despair because your backup school, the University of Michigan, is considered one of the top colleges in the country. In fact, the school’s 23.5 percent admissions rate ranks the school among the elite colleges in the world. They offer outstanding programs in business, economics, biology, English, mechanical engineering, political science and psychology. U-M also boasts a four-year graduation rate of 76 percent, which is something to think about if financial considerations are important. Eighty-nine percent of students graduate within five years.
There are any number of things that you can do to get excited about a second-choice school. Learn more about the campus and surrounding area and if at all possible, visit the campus again. Go to the online version of the University newspaper to see what clubs and activities are offered and explore their social media accounts. Some schools even have online groups that are dedicated to future students. I urge you to take advantage of any freshman orientation programs offered by the University to help smooth your transition to college.
Take this time to research courses and professors in what will be your chosen area of study. Many programs offer scholarships and internships that will help you financially.
Since a career is your eventual goal, you need to make sure that you take advantage of everything the University of Michigan has to offer academically as well as socially. You will not be sorry that you did.
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