PrepWell Blog


Who's to Blame for College Admissions Misses?

Decision Time

Yesterday was the deadline for most high school seniors to make their final college choice. It shouldn't be as stressful as many people make it out to be. 

Part of the reason can be explained here.

In this blog post, a mom wonders why so many highly-qualified students aren't getting into their dream colleges and what effect it will have on their psyches.

She also, within the first paragraph, blames:

  • this "generation"
  • the "system"
  • parents
  • Admissions Offices

This is a rough post. I agree with some of the sentiments, but not others. Here are my takeaways:

Managing Expectations

Just because your child's stat line reads: 1480 SAT, 4.3 GPA, varsity soccer team, student government, black belt, and quarterly soup kitchen volunteer doesn't mean they'll get into a highly-selective college. It just doesn't. Not even close.

There are thousands of kids just like this. They grow on trees these days. Just ask any parent. I'm not sure why so many people think that a high-performer like this has the right to go to a top college. Did I miss the memo?

It doesn't mean the student is not worthy, or not good enough, or that all of that hard work was a waste of time.

There could be many reasons: (1) not enough spots at the school to accept every qualified applicant, (2) the applicant didn't make their case well enough, (3) the applicant's profile didn't match the school's needs, (4) their essays just weren't that good, etc. 

It should be "expected" that they won't get into the most selective schools. An acceptance would be a bonus.  For this reason, they must have a list of backup schools where they want to attend just as much as their dream school. This mindset is not the norm and must be taught. 

Once they apply early action to their dream school (which seems to be the only way to go these days) - they should never think about it ever again and get to work on their real school options.

Of course, there are many things they can do to increase their chances at the most selective schools, and those are worthwhile avenues to pursue. But the value comes in understanding and engaging in the process involved - not whether or not they win the lottery at a particular school.

Who's to Blame?

It's not productive to blame this generation, the system, or College Admissions Offices. There are plenty of opportunities out there. If anyone is to blame, it's our fault if we continue to think (and teach our children) that there are only a select number of colleges that are even worth applying to.

Yes, brand name schools are an easy way out - for children and their parents. It's the lazy way to go. There's less friction. They require less research to figure out if it's a good "fit". It's easier to tell people where your child is going to school if it's a brand name school. There's less explaining to do. Yes, the less friction - the better, but it's not something to tie your hopes and dreams to.

How Do We Prevent Such Insanity?

In a word - PREPARATION.

Preparation will reduce friction as well - because your child will have learned the skills, strategies, and mindset to succeed - no matter what school they apply to or attend. 

Bottom line: Encourage your child to shoot for the stars. Keep taking hard classes. Get that black belt. Work hard. Just don't let them think that this entitles them to have their pick of schools.

Teach them that the hard work is preparing them for life - not just an acceptance letter. And - especially for students who decide to start this journey in 11th grade - be aware that a student can't prepare for life in the 6 months between junior and senior year. Not going to happen!

PrepWell Academy is a multi-year "masterclass on preparation" that gets students ready for whatever life brings their way - Harvard, Orange County Community College, or something in between.

There's no better way to avoid the name-calling, blaming, and finger-pointing than to buckle down, do the hard work, and prepare mentally for the realities of today's college admissions game.

We will launch our brand new and updated PrepWell Academy in 3 weeks. I hope you'll join us.

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Author: PrepWell Academy's Founder, Phil Black, has spent a lifetime cracking the code on the world's most competitive programs: Yale University, Harvard Business School, Navy SEALs, Goldman Sachs, Entrepreneurship, Shark Tank, etc.

Inside PrepWell Academy, Black teaches students everything they need to know about the college admissions process in a series of expertly-timed, 3-5-minute, weekly training videos starting in 9th grade and continuing through 12th grade [Note: this program can only be joined in 9th or 10th grade]. My specialties include military service academies, ROTC scholarships, Ivy League, and student-athletes.

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