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Setting boundaries during the college application process

September 13th, 2022

“If I were to go back and change something about my application process I would be less forthcoming with friends about where I was applying. I think it may help future college applicants to keep that in mind as well.”2022 advisee

How can you maintain boundaries with friends and family so the college process doesn’t drive you crazy?  It’s natural for those close to you to wonder which colleges you’re considering, but sometimes information-sharing among classmates can reach a level of toxicity.  Students measure their own achievements against others’, trying to figure out who’s most likely to receive good news.

Image via Grown and Flown

I knew a school counselor years ago, long since retired, who would hear students’ high-flying college aspirations and ask gruffly, “How do you feel about being told NO?”  He didn’t spare students’ feelings.  For those applying to the nation’s most heavily sought-after colleges – now with single-digit admission rates – it may seem as though nobody gets the nod at all. 

Barring distinction at a national or international level in some sphere, accomplishing things most adults won’t in their own lives, being a recruited athlete or falling into another category receiving favorable consideration, we must assume that in applying to schools at the “lottery” level the final answer could very well be no.   That school counselor was right, even more so today than in his heyday. 

Maintaining boundaries with friends where your college list is concerned could be helpful in the long run.  That way, if you choose to apply to colleges that are truly long shots, you have control of when, how and with whom you share news of final decisions.  

Crucial takeaway:  if you build your college application list thoughtfully and rationally, focusing on best fit rather than simply renown, you will have choices you can take pride in.  The student quoted above, outstanding in every respect, received both exciting and disappointing admission decisions as did exceptional students throughout the world.  She has a brilliant four years ahead.

Here’s an article on the topic that dates back to 2011, yet the advice given is timeless. Article linked below from The New York Times, written by Susannah L. Griffee, published December 5, 2011.

Protecting Friendships During the College Admissions Process

Susannah Griffee, a sophomore at New York University pursuing a double major in journalism and politics, is an intern this fall on The Choice blog and The New York Times Learning Network.

As high school seniors across the country wrestle with college applications, they should also gird themselves for this scenario: When a close friend gets rejected from a college that they are accepted to (or the other way around).

Rachel Simmons, a speaker on high school bullying and the author of “Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls,” says this scenario can cause high schools to become a fertile environment for aggression and paranoia during senior year. 

“The terms of applications to college inherently pit kids against each other,” she said in an interview.

Read more at New York Times>>