The last of our kids graduated from high school 4 years ago, but as the end of spring approaches I still get a pit in my stomach and wake up frightened. You know that proverbial reoccurring nightmare that you slept through a final? For me it’s reliving the anxiety, worry and concern while waiting for all those college acceptance notices! Not worried so much about which would be a yes or no but how those letters would affect my kids.
With the high application rates at some schools it becomes a game of chance and luck to get accepted – it’s not possible to know, like or trust a kid accurately through the application. This year, UCLA received 80,472 freshman applications plus another 19,087 transfer-student applications for fall 2013 admission. That’s a total of 99,559 undergraduate applications! Clearly it’s impossible for admissions councilors to read and give great attention to each application. Add to that the amazing caliber of the applicants and you can understand luck has to be a part of getting accepted - it’s like splitting hairs on ‘greatness’.
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Janina Montero, UCLA's vice chancellor for student affairs and interim admissions director, said “selecting the 2012 class will be a painstaking process, given the depth of talent and the stellar qualifications of the applicant pool.”
Unfortunately, for our kids and their peers, the acceptance/rejection process is the ultimate grade - the gold standard measurement for smarts and success. Seniors view it as the grading of their intellect and awesomeness as well as a leading indicator of their future success. It becomes a ranking system among peers. “I got into x schools, how many did you get into? I got into ABC University, did you?”
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The amount of prestige and pressure leveled at 18-year young adults is unbelievable! Some kids will get into their top school and will celebrate. But they will also feel held back as they see the hurt on their friend’s faces. Other kids will be angry and feel victimized by the process. This isn’t an easy road to navigate and many friendships can be at risk of ending once the letters arrive if feelings aren’t well managed.
Personally, I’ve parented on both sides of this equation. Today, lets deal with navigating the ‘winner circle’ storms. If your kid has been accepted to a highly sought after and prestigious college it will feel like life is good! But there will probably be bumps in the road and drama. A lot of articles talk about how to help a disappointed student but I also think as parents we need to help elated students too. (Tomorrow’s topic will focus on helping your disappointing student thrive in their new reality – so don’t miss it!)