Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the “everything happens for a reason” or the “it is what it is” mantras. They feel overly simplistic and too frequently used encourage others to not be disappointed when disappointing things occur.
In college admissions, there is a lot of disappointment (there’s also a lot of joy and relief!). So, to those of you who receive disappointing news during the admissions season, my first response is to say that it’s ok (justified even!) to feel disappointed. You’ve put in a lot of time and effort and didn’t reap the expected rewards. For some of you, this might be the first time where hard work did not equal the outcome you wanted.
You probably aren’t interested in hearing it right now, but this is actually a great experience to have under your belt. It’s unlikely to be the last time you feel this kind of disappointment, and it’s the process of bouncing back from these setbacks (repeatedly) that builds the resilience and grit needed to go out in the world and do great things.
I was having a conversation with one of my former Princeton professors a few weeks ago. He was interested in the college admissions work I’m doing, and he asked, “have the students figured out yet that it doesn’t matter where they go?” It was a tongue in cheek comment. Of course it matters where you go to college! But what he was really trying to say was that the name of the college on your eventual diploma will be far less important or significant than the work ethic you develop, the networks and relationships you build, and the interests and passions you pursue. He went on to tell me about the amazing college students he was currently working with at several schools along the east coast. You would recognize the names of some of these schools and others would probably be new to you. But his takeaway was the key: the students were just as impressive, capable, intelligent, and motivated as the students in his ivy league classes.
If you don’t believe this, I challenge you to run a little experiment. Think about the industry you might want to go into one day – maybe it’s engineering or finance or non-profits. Now, run some quick google searches to identify the most well-known companies in these sectors. Look up the leadership teams of these companies (CEOs, CFOs, COOs, etc.). Once you have this list, do some more googling to determine the educational backgrounds of these individuals (they are easy to find). I can almost guarantee you that you will see a wide range of schools on those lists! There is no one path to success and there is no situation where your life-long goals are unachievable because you weren’t accepted into the college you really had your heart set on.
So, if you are feeling some disappointment in the college admissions journey right now, that’s ok. But don’t lose sight of the fact that’s going to be ok. The success you will achieve in life will have very little to do with the name of college on your diploma.