David Altshuler, M.S.
(305) 978-8917 | david@davidaltshuler.com

Fixating on only one potential romantic partner leads nowhere good. Ooh, I love her so much, I’ll never be content with anyone else is the voice of a wallowing adolescent not a rational adult. The reality is that my unrequited affection for Sophia Vergara is my problem--not hers. She will live a long and happy life without knowing of the depths of my affection. I will live a longer and happier life if I find satisfaction with somebody else. Anybody else. My long-suffering wife for example, might be a good place to start.

Would it be a stretch to suggest that focusing on only one college might be an inexpert way to go about the admissions process? I know, I know. Before we even get out of the second paragraph, we’re in trouble: What’s the point of having a first choice if I’m not passionate about attending?  Nothing wrong with preference. But just as nobody cares if you have two glasses of wine with dinner but if you consume two bottles of Merlot with every meal your family might have cause for concern, obsessing about one and only one college can be a problem.

Especially because as impressive as your 3.9 un-weighted G.P.A. is and as pleased as you might be with your 97th percentile SAT scores and your stellar extra-curriculars, you are not alone in possessing those immaculate credentials. There are a small number of colleges that have admissions ratios in the single digits. Last year Brown accepted 6.6% percent of applicants; Northwestern admitted 9.2% These are brutal numbers and the vast majority of rejected students would have been entirely successful in the classroom and the dorm room had they been admitted. The sad reality is that it is entirely possible that your dream will not come true. Indeed, as the yes and no emails arrive this week, the probabilities favor “we had too many qualified applicants” over “we are pleased to welcome you to the Class of…”

What to do? Maybe begin by understanding that you have done everything you can do. Therefore, consider:

  1. Acknowledging that there is a random aspect to admissions and that stuff happens.
  2. Getting over yourself.
  3. Accepting that you can’t always have what you want.
  4. Realizing that the next step—medical school, for example—is just as attainable from another institution.
  5. Understanding that a college that accepts five percent of its applicants isn’t necessarily “better” than a college that accepts 20 percent of its applicants any more than a romantic partner is automatically better because they are taller.
  6. Preparing for attending another equally awesome college by—gasp!—reading a book that wasn’t assigned by your AP English teacher because if there’s one inference we can safely make about your first-year composition course at wherever you end up matriculating it’s that there are going to be a metric ton of books assigned and it wouldn’t hurt to have any number of them already read before that syllabus is handed out on the first day of class so dig your well before you get thirsty.

No argument: it’s a drag determining that Chris Hemsworth does not reciprocate your affection. But of your options:

  1. March up and down the sidewalk outside his home playing gloomy, love ballads on your mandolin, throwing romantic poetry over the wall of the compound, sighing loudly.
  2. Working on yourself, going to the gym, eating healthy, reading good books, hiking with friends, having experiences which--when you do eventually go on a date with someone nice—will be worth talking about.

I certainly know which of these options I would recommend. Because Stanford University and Kylie Jenner will very likely reject you, but Jane Austen, Henry Fielding, and Alice Walker most decidedly will not. Indeed, Virginia Woolf, Mark Twain, and Willa Cather are waiting with open arms. Do a few sit-ups while you’re at it and you will be well prepared for the slings and arrows from the admissions offices due in your in-box this week. Because obsession, not rejection, more closely resembles failure.



Copyright © David Altshuler 1980 – 2022    |    Miami, FL • Charlotte, NC     |    (305) 978-8917    |    david@davidaltshuler.com