We're picking up the pieces, but what went wrong?

<p>To all my CC friends. Our family is slowly picking itself up from the devastating blow of college admissions. What we thought would be an exciting and joyous time, has unfortunately turned out to be painful and devastating for all of us. I'm reluctant to post this, but I'd truly like your feedback as to what could have gone wrong. I'll try to explain briefly, but still give you a picture of my s's situation. </p>

<p>My son's second grade teacher said that it was unusual to see a boy who was so intellectually talented not only in mathematics but also in language. Today, a high school senior, he quotes Shakespeare as easily as he writes equations in his physics class. His passion for classical music has brought him joy and wonderful performance opportunities. </p>

<p>This year when he applied to colleges, he selected places where he felt he would be challenged intellectually and that would offer him music opportunities such as good music teachers and fellow students whom he could perform with on a comparable level. His teachers and guidance counselor thought his list commensurate with his love of learning, grades, test scores and course load.</p>

<p>He's one of 12 National Merit Scholars from our very competitive suburban HS, and four of the other winners -his peers- have been accepted at Stanford, Harvard, MIT and Brown. (don't yet know about the others) He's won other types of awards but listing his stats here is not my point.</p>

<p>The results were as follows:</p>

<p>Waitlisted at Oberlin, Swarthmore and Wash U
Rejected at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, U Penn and Columbia</p>

<p>Many other kids at our HS were accepted at Oberlin with lower stats, but he filled in truthfully the question of where else he was applying. Did they wait- list him because they thought they were being used as a back -up school?</p>

<p>He had to check off that he was applying for financial aid because we are not a high income family and have another child in college. Does applying for financial aid when you're an over -represented majority from an over represented geographical area have a negative effect even at need blind schools? </p>

<p>So as not to dwell on disappointment he's looking into applying to the University of Edinburgh for science, as it's not yet past their deadline, and is going to pursue his waitlist status at Swarthmore by sending in his latest accomplishments and additional recommendations. </p>

<p>I'd appreciate any of your thoughts.
Thanks so much.<br>

<p>"Waitlisted at Oberlin, Swarthmore and Wash U
Rejected at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, U Penn and Columbia</p>

<p>Many other kids at our HS were accepted at Oberlin with lower stats, but he filled in truthfully the question of where else he was applying. Did they wait- list him because they thought they were being used as a back -up school?"</p>

<p>Your son's being at a h.s. with 12 merit scholars, many of whom were also applying to the same competitive colleges, means that your son had lots of competition in a year that is the most competitive year in US colleges' history. </p>

<p>His being from Boston also hurt because the colleges that you mention get floods of excellent applicants from Boston. Since the colleges want geographic diversity, the Boston candididates end up being disadvantaged in admissions.</p>

<p>I think that he needed to apply to some colleges that were sure bets and also to more where his stats were in their middle ranges.</p>

<p>I am guessing that at Oberlin, his stats may have been in the top of the mid ranges, but Oberlin is small and wants representation from all over the world. For that reason, they may not have wanted to take more students from your son's high school. </p>

<p>It's possible that if the GC calls Oberlin on your son's behalf and if your S sends Oberlin a strong letter stating that he will come if they take him off the wait list, he'll get in. I'm suggesting Oberlin since I would think that your S would stand out even more in the pool there than at Swat, which is higher rated. In addition, Oberlin would offer him wonderful opportunities for his music interests.</p>

<p>As far as I know, the Ivies and Stanford that you listed are need blind when it comes to admissions. I don't know, though, how need will factor into who comes off their wait lists. I don't know how Oberlin and Swat consider financial need in admissions.</p>

<p>There still are many colleges in the US that are still taking applications. Some colleges that have closed applications will still consider applications from especially strong candidates that fill their diversity needs including the colleges' needs for geographic diversity. Your S's GC should be able to help with this. I imagine, for instance, that Bostonians may be highly desired candidates in the southwest, Pacific NW and in most parts of the Midwest. There are some very quality colleges in all of those areas.</p>

<p>Oh, so sorry!!! That's hard!</p>

<p>What went wrong is that he (and you) didn't choose a safety, and fall in love with it. The safety is ALWAYS the most important school on the list.</p>

<p>I'm looking at the admissions odds for a highly qualified student from a suburban high school who requires financial aid (yes, I know they "claim" to be needblind, despite the massive pile of evidence to the contrary), and knowing absolutely nothing else additional about your son (don't need to, as it turns out - I'm simply assuming the average WONDERFUL applicant to any of these schools):</p>

<p>Harvard - 1 out of 20 (at best)
Yale - 1 out of 20 (at best)
Princeton - 1 out 20 (at best)
Columbia - 1 out of 20
Swarthmore - 1 out 10
Washington U. - 1 out 10
Oberlin - 1 out of 5</p>

<p>The way I look at, the chances of his NOT getting into any of them (forget the waitlist) are better than 50/50. This has nothing in particular to do with your kid at all (and wouldn't have even if he'd gotten in), and everything about the institution's needs.</p>

<p>You'll increase your odds substantially by having him aggressively pursue all three waiting lists. (Still the chances aren't great.)</p>

<p>Meanwhile, 3 years in Scotland! What an incredible experience that would be! Good luck!</p>

<p>I wonder if his guidance counselor could call and ask what info they want or where they feel he is lacking. Did one of his letters of rec say something unfortunate or was one of them not able to express his strengths well enough. When my son'g girlfriend was deferred at Columbia she and her GC called, found out why and explained things more thoroughly, it was a miscommunication and she is a happy freshman there now. If possible you may want to try the CC program to help with waitlistings. I have heard they do a good job. Good luck. That is such a letdown. I feel for you son. Let us know what happens</p>

<p>Oh my gosh, andi, he would have a blast at Edinburgh! Apply right away! </p>

<p>He'd have his degree in three years and would be in an excellent position for graduate school admissions because his boldness and creativity would be demonstrated - confident student went to another country. He may find lots of kindred spirits there as well. UK is trying to lure talented young people for permenent residency, special programs for those under 28 - he might love it over there and be able to get dual citizenship easily. Great opportunity, grab it if you can.</p>

<p>Have him go to this board and find out all about Edinburgh from other students:</p>

<p><a href="http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Andi: That has to hurt! </p>

<p>I second NSM's suggestion of going after the top waitlist school. Another possibility is to do a gap year and re-apply, as nopoisonivy's kid did. </p>

<p>A big hug to you and S.</p>

<p>My guess is that you are right. Oberlin thought they were the back up choice. That option is worth a couple of serious phone calls from the GC or music teacher--someone who knows Oberlin and someone who loves your S.</p>

<p>I can add is that the University of Ediburgh is a fantastic school. A friend's S went there after a similar US admissions result and he absolutely LOVES it. He is doing an Artificial Intelligence course which he loves.</p>

<p>After the second year, he took a year sabbatical to take up an internship with Sun in San Francisco. He's enjoyed every minute of that as well. The UEdiburgh experience has put the world at his fingertips.</p>

<p>I cannot say enough about University of Ediburgh--although I do not believe they offer fin aid for foreigners and it is quite expensive for US citizens.</p>

<p>Sorry to hear about your S, college admissions are truly horrible most of the time!
If he is serious about applying to Edinburgh, get the application as soon as possible, since decisions are rolling. And Edinburgh is an absolutely fantastic place to be - far and away my favourite city in the UK!
Good luck!</p>

<p>Thanks. I realize that he didn't apply to any very easy schools, however he was certainly above the mid 50% at Oberlin. I'm sure you're looking at this list and thinking that we were foolish but quite honestly he's an exceptional person. (and yes there are others who think this besides his mother)
Why did the other kids, his peers in the classroom get multiple acceptances and him not any?</p>

So sorry to hear the news. How do you tell your child that things will be okay, when something like this happens. We :( for you.
There are still schools that take apps. until May 1st I think? So get on it, get in somewhere, and be the most outstanding student in that school , and try transferring next year into Oberlin or Wash U.</p>

<p>Did your son really not apply to any schools "lower" than wash U. and Oberlin?</p>

<p>We thought our D was a top-notch candidate, with 1580, 4.4 (3.85uw) and string of EC and leadership, but we still made sure to have safety-nets at various levels. There are just so many unbelievable students out there, and some who do nothing else but work towards the "DREAM", that it's impossible to count on particular schools,</p>

<p>It probably does not seem like things will get better, but they will...you need to pick yourselves up, and tackle the situation with renewed vigor.</p>

<p>Keep your fingers crossed to get off that Oberlin waitlist, and send in a "still my first-choice school" letter.</p>

<p>I know you tend to look at this very personally, and it hurts! but barring something radically wrong in his application, I think you need to look at the pure mathematics of the thing. The schools didn't think of it as "rejecting your son", but in meeting their own particular institutional needs. It's NOT personal. (which is why the need for the moral of the tale, about safeties.)</p>

<p>Great to hear such positive response about Edinburgh!! My sister, who lives in England, suggested it! They loved it when they visited. Reminded them of Hogwarts. Thanks for the link Yulsie, I'll check it out asap. </p>

<p>Yes marite, it does hurt, especially when his buddies have all been accepted to the places he would loved to have gone to! I don't think you've felt pain until you've opened 5 letters of rejection and seen your dreams crushed in a matter of hours. Not the outcome one would imagine after years of working hard.</p>

<p>Also, I think it would be good for him to just leave this all behind and start anew. It might relieve some of the feelings of humiliation too.</p>

<p>Perhaps they had better recommendations, essays or interviews or took more time tailoring their applications to each college. </p>

<p>I believe you when you say he's exceptional. This particularly would be true if he were compared to students nationwide.</p>

<p>The problem, however, is that Boston has enormous numbers of students who are exceptional when compared to the rest of the country. Such students tend to apply to the same colleges, and the colleges are not going to fill up their classes with exceptional Boston students (particularly students from the same high schools).</p>

<p><<my son's="" second="" grade="" teacher="" said="" that="" it="" was="" unusual="" to="" see="" a="" boy="" who="" so="" intellectually="" talented="" not="" only="" in="" mathematics="" but="" also="" language.="">></my></p>

<p>It's not unusual, though, when it comes to applicants for top universities. In fact the males whom I have seen get into my Ivy alma mater from my area (which is nowhere near as competitive as your area is) tend to have at least a national achievement in one academic or EC area and at least a state achievement in an unrelated academic or EC area .</p>

<p>Also, when it comes to the very top colleges on your S's list -- S, H, MIT and possibly some others, being National Merit is not a distinction in their applicant pool because such colleges attract so many National Merit Scholars.</p>

<p>I am hazarding a guess that your son also may not have put the effort into his applications for places like Oberlin and Wash U because he mistakenly assumed he'd easily get in. Those colleges might recognized his lack of real interest and then waitlisted him instead of accepting him.</p>

<p>This is a tough one and I know you are all devastated.</p>

<p>If he'd go there for sure, I'd have his GC call one of his wl schools and make a case for admitting him now. Several years ago one of our neighbors, who had also applied only to reach schools, was rejected outright at every one. (I know you don't think of it that way with respect to your own son, but every single school on his list is a reach for every single applicant.) Her counselor called our nearby top 50 university and she got in as a late applicant, then went happily off to med school.</p>

<p>It is ESSENTIAL for every student to have safeties they like. One of dd's friends applied only to reaches out of state and safeties in-state, safeties that she doesn't want to attend. Looks like the latter are her only option, which is really really too bad, because there are many wonderful similar schools out of state where she might have founddifferent programs and the sense of adventure she seeks.</p>

<p>I always say, you never know in what way the other candidates stood out......just because people are in school with you, does not mean you know about every amazing activity that they are involved in, and 9 times out of 10, there are hidden surprises.</p>


<p>I am so terribly sorry. I know that your son is an incredibly worthy candidate, and this is the worst story that I have heard about college admissions in a long time. I feel sick for you and your family. </p>

<p>I'm sure that there will be many views as to what "went wrong"--where else he should have applied, what supplemental materials he should have sent, what kinds of essays he should have written, etc. To my mind, his great misfortune was coming from a highly competitive suburban high school in the Northeast. (The ironies are heartbreaking. How many families make huge sacrifices to enroll their children in schools like these, when their kids would probably stand out more if they lived in Podunk?) In any event, I urge you not to torment yourself with what might or might not have been done differently. The important thing at this point is to regroup and move forward.</p>

<p>The University of Edinburgh sounds like an interesting idea, and I also believe your son has a real shot at all of his waitlist schools, especially if he visits them and otherwise conveys genuine ongoing interest. In an extreme situation like this one--it's just mind-boggling that a student like your son would not have at least one great acceptance in hand at this point--I would also consider making an appointment with the best college consultant in the area, who should be able to recommend other options and strategies.</p>

<p>Again, my heart goes out to you and your family. I hope you won't spend too much time looking back, and that your son will soon be able to move on to the exciting future that he clearly deserves.</p>

<p>We visited Oberlin and really like it. My S ended up not applying because he decided it didn't have quite the science focus he needed and he really wanted to be in a city. Their music program is awesome and the kids there are very open and accepting. My S and his friend went on an overnight and the guys they stayed with (they had just met from a girl they DID know) stayed up playing cards with them most of the night talking about the school.</p>

<p>Whatever you decide to do, best of luck. This whole process can be devastating. Try to keep your S from getting down on himself. He sounds like an awesome kid!</p>

<p>This seems to me to be not all that uncommon this year. What I'll add is that I think it's important to keep perspective. All is not lost! If he does not get off a list at a school he REALLY wants to attend he should take a gap year and try again with some help if you can afford it. A one year detour is nothing if it gets him where he wants to be. Good luck!</p>

<p><em>hugs</em> Andi. </p>

<p>I think the competition level in your regional area, coupled with his competitive school did not help in his application process. Edinburgh sounds like a wonderful alternative. If he does decide on a gap year and then reapply next year, I would echo the senitment that he look where he would add geographic diversity for some of his selections. </p>

<p>He sounds like an exceptional young man, and I hope a resilient one! On to plan B.</p>

<p>My dearest andi,</p>

<p>YOUR SON IS EXCEPTIONAL, PLAIN AND SIMPLE. He deserved admission to one of the schools of his choice. He has worked tirelessly for this, and it SHOULD have happened. No talk of numbers and odds and its not being personal can explain this travesty IMHO. </p>

<p>You know how much I love him AND you!</p>

<p>All that said, look forward, look in unexpected places, and GO FOR IT! The possibilities are still there for him. I know you both can make them happen, and I'm gonna be the loudest one on the sidelines, cheering your son on.</p>

<p>With much, much love and many HUGE hugs, ~berurah</p>