How To Cope With “Admissions Armageddon”

What happens if you don’t get into your “Dream College?”

Easy – your life is O-V-E-R. Finito. Caput.

Thanks for reading this post!

Fine, perhaps this is a slight exaggeration. Here some thoughts on rejection from your top choice college.

First, understand that there is no scientific proof that it actually matters where you attend college. Only hunches and anecdotal evidence.

There’s a famous study (that no-one’s ever heard of) by a Princeton economist that tracks graduates of A., Ivy League and equivalent colleges versus B., kids who graduated non-elite schools.

Each group had similar grades and standardized test scores. In the first study, the economists compared kids who were admitted to each type of college, but half chose option B. After 10 years each cohort earned approximately the same income.

Years later, the same economists tracked the success of similarly academically credentialed college applicants, except this time group A attended an Ivy or equivalent, but group B was rejected by all elite colleges and attended a less competitive school.

Same result – no difference in earnings between the two cohorts.

Now, I am not claiming that it’s completely irrelevant where you attend college. Attending a college with a powerful alumni network undeniably opens doors post-college. But a few comments are in order.

One of the inherent flaws or limitations in studies like these, or college rankings, is what college students PUT IN to the schools they attend, especially how much they avail themselves of internships and other opportunities provided by the college.
Another thought: perhaps a kid rejected by a top school goes to college with a chip on his shoulder and works harder to “show them?”

Comment Deux: If a child wants to pursue a career in finance, I see how it’s worth “paying up” for a Wharton or similar school with a great alumni network. If one of my kids got into a college like that and was interested in working on Wall Street, I’d consider getting three jobs and selling a kidney to pay for it.

On the other hand, if one of my kids were interested in a career like teaching, I do not see the value in shelling out $70K per year. I’ll keep my kidney, thank you very much. But that’s just me.

Here’s a non-hypothetical example. Pearl and I have a client whose daughter is a sophomore at a good – non-elite – private liberal arts college. The parents cannot afford to send her, so they are selling their home. Wait – that’s not the crazy part.

Their daughter has not yet chosen a major and has a 3.0 average, barely. But she’s always loooooooved this college, so mom and dad are frittering away their biggest asset in order to keep her happy.

Our client is not crazy, and not dumb. She knows what she’s doing, Pearl and I have had numerous conversations with her over the years. We don’t judge. But seriously, c’mon!

My point is that, even when you DO get into your “Dream College,” it may not turn out the way you had hoped.

Finally, some of the most successful people in the world were rejected by their top choice schools, Warren Buffett and Tina Fey are two that come to mind. My guess is that they could have gone anywhere and been wildly successful.

It may sting if you’re rejected by your Dream College, but your kid will get over it and it will have zero effect on their success post-college.

Pearl and Andy Lockwood host The College Success for Less Show and are attorneys-turned "late stage" college finance consultants. They coach select college-bound teens on the process of choosing and getting into top colleges that will prepare them for success post-college, and they help "Forgotten Middle Class" obtain tuition discounts of 49.1% or more, even if they think they cannot qualify for anything.

Andy wrote three #1 Best Selling books, "How to Pay 'Wholesale' for College," on financial aid strategies, "The Incomparable Applicant," on admissions tips and tactics and "College Essay Insider Secrets," on how to write a killer college essay.

Pearl, a former prosecutor in Queens County, NY, received her B.S. from Cornell University. Andy received his B.A. from Wesleyan University (where he was a member of (not "played for") the basketball team). They each received a J.D. from St. John's University Law School, where they met on the first day. Awwwww.

More information about their college admissions and financial aid planning service is available at www.CollegePlanningGuru.com.