Last Updated Apr 4, 2010 10:43 PM EDT
If you read the press coverage at this time of year, you'd think that nearly all high school seniors have been rejected from most or all of their college choices.
A typical example is a Los Angeles high school senior, who received rejection letters from the 11 tony private universities, where she applied, including Brown, Princeton and Stanford. (Technically, one school wait listed her.) She wrote about her serial rejections on The New York Times' college blog:
... I will not let myself dissolve into a miserable puddle of self-pity. I have my dignity, after all, and a strong backbone that doesn't allow for woe-is-me sessions.
I am not going to lie, though. Underneath this cheerful bravado of sunshine and happy-go-lucky attitude, I'm really hurt and disappointed.
I don't need to rely on The New York Times' to find bright students, who aimed too high. The daughter of one of my best friend's applied to 10 private colleges and the University of California, Berkeley. She got into Berkeley and Mount Holyoke College and was wait listed or rejected by everybody else including Columbia, Yale and Amherst.
What all this bad news masks, however, is a happy reality: most high school seniors don't experience college rejections. About 79% of current college freshmen get into their first choice school.
College rejection bottom line:If you want more choices in the spring of your senior year, don't limit your college wish list strictly to the super elite schools, where nearly everyone receives rejection letters. In this category, I'd put schools which reject anywhere from 65% to 94% of students.
Getting into these schools is going to be a crap shoot no matter how talented you are. If you insist on going this route, you will enjoy few, if any, choices in the spring. And I know some talented teenagers who can tell you how crummy this feels.
Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes about college for The CollegeSolutionBlog. Follow her on Twitter.
Rejection letter image by heipei. CC 2.0.