As counselors across the nation are fielding calls and handing out tissues, I've been left to ask, “What on earth have we done as a society that we can, with one decision, so demoralize and "destroy" thousands of kids across the nation.” Of course, they are not "destroyed"––we know that––but that's not the message they receive from parents and friends. "It's not fair"––oh, how many times have we heard that––which from early childhood has been the battle call? What ever happened with how to deal with disappointment? And, when will we put an end to one of the root causes of this situation––college rankings by US News and World Report and Forbes, as well as a whole host of lists given out by test prep companies and people who write the "How To Get In" books)?
So, it's time for a little explanation to our students. They need to understand the hard facts and numbers, because that is what it is all about. Here is an example from posted data:
UPENN–– 44,960 applicants; 3,345 admits.
Of those admits, how much of a chance did you actually have?
468 international students; 501 first generation students. The pool is now down to 2,376. Now, consider the roughly 50/50 male/female ratio. The pool is now cut to 1,188. That number needs to be spread among 50 states, public and private schools, tuba players, athletes, humanities majors, engineering students, etc. (statistics for legacy admits were not posted)
So really, what were your chances? That doesn't mean you didn't work hard. That doesn't mean you are not brilliant. That certainly doesn't mean that you won’t be successful. It only means that it's a numbers game and for the remaining spots it's simply a lottery. You have done everything right. And you will continue to do everything right. You will be fine! You may not have the sticker on the back of your car that you thought you "deserved" but look at the numbers again. You are not alone.
You get another cry day and that's it. Start to be thankful that you have the opportunity to get a college education, then go out and do something to change the world. Doing so will take you a lot further than a name on a piece of paper or bumper sticker.
By Barbara Kalmus, a dear friend of mine and IEC from California, who wrote this in response to the year’s tough admissions statistics.