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"Thinking About College"

John's Blog in the Palo Alto Weekly Online

The Verdicts Are In

(Written by John Raftrey)

At 2 pm (PT) today (Tuesday) the Ivies released their decisions after all the other schools had released theirs and the college acceptance season is now officially over. As of today, your high school GPA is irrelevant!

Now let’s get down to business.

My best advice. Don’t spend your time figuring out why you got accepted at one college and didn’t get accepted at a similar school.

Admissions decisions sometimes make about as much sense as the Oracle at Delphi or a San Francisco jury. Repeat after me: you didn’t do anything wrong.

You gave your high school career and the college application process your best shot. Let me repeat: you didn’t do anything wrong.

The acceptance process is not transparent, and among equally qualified students it is rife with serendipity and happenstance.

For example, why does a student get accepted at Berkeley and wait listed at UC San Diego? Schools are reading the exact same application! This is about as close as you can get to a statistically significant experiment to expose the lunacy of the decision process. How about the student who is accepted at Berkeley and Stanford and rejected at UCLA? Or why the student with three AP’s is headed to Stanford and the student with 7 AP’s headed to Davis? Or my personal favorite, accepted at UCLA and Harvard and wait listed at Santa Clara?

I compare notes with my colleagues all the time and we get more baffled each year.

Focus on the schools that accepted you.  If you look at where Paly and Gunn students matriculate, nobody goes to a bad college. They are all at schools that can launch their lives, and help them fulfill their destiny.

Focus on finding your people, finding your tribe.  Visit your top two schools and ask yourself, “Can I hang out with these people for four years?” Finding your people will play a much bigger role in your college success than the college’s ranking.

If you make it to May with no F’s and without getting expelled, you will graduate from what will be one of the most academically intense experiences of your life. This is one heck of an accomplishment. I know a grad student at Stanford who is a lot more relaxed and happy then he ever was in high school.

Congratulations to everybody for making it through the gauntlet.  Please let the schools you reject know you are not coming, so they can start to invite students off the wait list. Rest up over the summer and in the fall you will finally be able to really learn what really interests you!

Here is my humorous April Fools present to you: [http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/an-honest-college-rejection-letter An Honest College Rejection Letter.]

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