Right now, my son has one acceptance, early action, and three rejections, regular decision. I'm going to post our experiences and hope that it helps others next year.
I would draw the following lessons from our experiences this year:
- I would definitely encourage every student to apply to at least one college, early action, where one has a reasonable shot at being admitted and that one would be happy attending. If the students gets that acceptance(s), it will take a *lot* of the pressure off the rest of the waiting. Getting that acceptance may encourage the student to fly higher. If we were doing it again, I'd probably also encourage my son to apply to at least one safety, for the same reasons.
- I would definitely encourage students to take the ACT/SAT both junior and senior year. The earlier test will help you decide which schools are reasonable safeties and reaches. There can be big improvement in one year, so it's worth doing it again, even if one gets a reasonable score the first time. I say that despite the fact that I've always been very anti-standardized test.
- Definitely check out colleges' differing requirements early enough that one can get however many years of foreign language, science, etc., required by that school. My son knew there was some risk in taking ASL rather than a different foreign language, but he knew at least a few of the colleges that he was interested in would accept it. Don't be afraid to bug the different colleges for answers, if they're not immediately responsive.
- It really is true that every college is going to make its acceptance decisions differently. So try not to take rejections too personally, do prepare as best you can to meet the requirements of the colleges that interest one, and remember that there are lots of alternate paths in life.
- My son just read this message over my shoulder- he said, "don't apply to reach colleges if you don't want to get rejected." He's definitely not enjoying them. But, learning how to cope with rejection is another important life skill.
I've always felt comfortable in knowing that my son had at least several reasonable paths to go down, even if they weren't his first choice. Any of his original safety schools would have been just fine. He could have decided not to attend college at all this fall and continue at the community college, then try again as a transfer next year. He could get a job. He could take a gap year and try again next year.
What if the student has chosen a very highly specialized field which only 2-3 colleges nationwide offer? Or only one college? How can one increase the odds of acceptance?
Plan ahead to avoid devastating test results .
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