The Spring Waiting Game

College Acceptance Letter - Springtime waiting angst

by Cathie Maglio, Blended Learning Specialist

It’s springtime, when students check their email and mailboxes for those letters from colleges. Everyone knows a thick packet means acceptance and a letter-size envelope means rejection. The wait is fraught.

It’s exciting when that first paragraph starts “Congratulations on your admission to …” or “Welcome to the class of 2022 at ….” Student and parents both have something to celebrate, especially if the letter is from the school the student really wants to attend. The student is so excited that she wants to shout from the rooftops, tell all her friends, post it on social media and let everyone know the wait is over.

I remember when I got my acceptance letter from Salem State College (now University). I told my parents and friends, and could not wait to tell my favorite teachers, Mrs. Schack and Mr. Lindsay.

Once the acceptance letter is digested, then comes the essential part: the financial aid package. Does the offer cover enough of tuition, fees, and room and board? This is where the elation of getting into a favorite school can turn into disappointment because the aid package is not enough to allow the student to attend the school. After the disappointment, the student may look at another school that is within the family’s budget. For all she knows, the second-choice school might turn out to be the best experience for her.

I think most students have a “dream school” they always thought about going to but knew it was probably never going to happen. Notre Dame was my dream school, but I knew my parents could not afford to send me there, so I went to one they could afford. When I went to college tuition, fees and books were about $500 a semester! For my family, that was a lot of money. I have no regrets about going to a school my family could afford and graduating without a load of debt.

Many students will receive letters saying “The Admissions committee has carefully considered your application and we regret to inform you that we will not be able to offer you admittance to the class of 2022.” These letters are devastating for students, especially if they really wanted to attend that college. What they need to remember is that the admissions committee has rejected an application, not a person. Not admitting you is their loss. They won’t have your unique presence on their campus. After the tears of disappointment, you pick yourself up and wait for the next potential acceptance to arrive in your inbox or mail box.

Students can be surprised by the unexpected. I have seen this happen to two JFY students. One student at Revere High was not planning on going to college until he was offered a football scholarship by a college near Boston. Another student at East Boston High wanted to go to college but her family did not have the means to send her. Happily, she was offered a full ride to a college outside Boston.

These are the surprises that are talked about in the press, and among the faculty and students. What is not talked about is that some students get accepted to colleges in spite of the reputation of their high school. What the public learns about a school in the media is mainly how the school performs on the MCAS tests. The ranking and reputation of the school are determined by MCAS scores, not the graduates who get accepted to MIT, Harvard, BC or other schools of their choice. A teacher at one of my Boston schools told me recently that three students from the school were accepted to MIT. That is truly something to celebrate, but there were no public announcements. In fact, we hear very little about college acceptances among the graduating classes. Yet that is the dominant goal of high school and something for administrators, faculty and students all to be proud of and for the taxpayers who fund the school to know about.

JFYNetWorks congratulates all graduating seniors on completing high school and going on to the next step in their lives, whether that’s higher education, work or the military. We’re glad to have had the opportunity to contribute to their success.

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