For students who applied during early admissions, you are probably hearing back now. That means this is a tough time of year. Hearing back early is so bitter-sweet. But if you followed my strategy, you applied to all of your schools early, even without the “early” designation. So here are a few things to think about as you hear back from schools:

4. You are going to college; just not that one. Most of my clients apply to a good number of schools and they heard back from most of them. And they were admitted to most of them, except for one. Don’t focus on that one.

3. Schools have a ton of things going on that have nothing to do with your awesomeness. There are many, many things that happen at a college campus. This may be budgets, faculty contracts, new facilities, research initiatives, competing campuses, new vendor for the dining halls, lack of budget for grad students, a department is under review, and more. And where these things all come together is in admissions. This could mean that they have a different amount to spend on aid. This could mean they have to beef up a different program and take fewer undergrads. Point is, it has nothing to do with you so you shouldn’t take it personally.

2. But if you insist on thinking it’s you, don’t look at the obvious. Schools have said many times over that they could easily fill their campuses with valedictorians. Yet, we can’t seem to move past our GPAs and test scores. You are more than your numbers and so is the student standing next to you who may have gained admissions to that school. I think back to a teammate who absolutely hated NYU and started a transfer application to Wesleyan almost as soon as she arrived in New York. She said something about fresh air, blah, blah, blah. Social fit is critical and schools may have identified a lack of fit in that area better than you did. And that’s okay too; it’s just another lesson learned.

1. There is always an appeal. First, before you get this in your head, appeals rarely work. It really has to be something like, “Hey, I won the Nobel Prize in Physics between the time I applied and now. I thought you should know.” And seriously, that’s almost the only real reason they would accept. Most people write appeals as though the school is just hella dumb and didn’t read their application. That’s all bad. It’s especially all bad when you think about my #4 and #2; if you got into a school, the college you are arguing with could easily say, “What’s wrong with X? Maybe that’s a better fit for you.” Arguing that their school is better, especially if you were admitted to a sister campus, is not the strategy you want to employ. The other option would be if you didn’t get admitted to ANY school; in which case, one may assume you checked the wrong box somewhere and that’s appeal-worthy too.

I realize things are easier said than done. I also obsess over things and I’m quick to blame myself when things don’t go how I would like them to. So if anything, use this disappointment to kick that bad habit.

I hope that is helpful. And most importantly, enjoy the holidays with your families.