Trying to Read the Tea Leaves – Early Decisions Are Out

 Trying to Read the Tea Leaves – Early Decisions Are OutIt’s another one of those important life lessons playing itself out in real time all across the country.  Most Early decisions are out now and have made many wonderful young people very happy.  Congratulations to all of them.   It’s a magical moment for sure and one they will always remember.  For them, this is a launching point.  Yay!!

But for so many, many more, the decisions have left applicants on some spectrum of stunned, heartbroken, confused and deflated.  And I can see why, now that I’m on this side of the college admissions experience, where I actually know the individuals involved and have fallen in love with them and their families.  I see their beauty and promise and strengths.  I feel their talent and desire to serve.   And now I feel their grief.

There is the natural urge to read the tea leaves, to connect the dots and make assumptions about why the decision did not go their way.  While this is fruitless, there is a certain innocence to it that I do not have.

Because for nearly 30 years, I was one of those college admissions officers who turned so many top students down.

I know well that all decisions depend on who else is applying that year, what the institution’s needs are and the composition of the admissions staff.  I’ve seen how a newbie reader or a poor reader can affect a case negatively.

I know that a change in leadership at the college can affect the school’s goals and needs.  This is especially true if that school is looking to increase their USNWR ranking… I’ve seen how mistakes happen, and yes, how life happens because we’re all humans.

While I’m so happy for all of those who got admitted to college this month, my heart is heavy for all of those who did not.  I know that it doesn’t help, but I still have to say that this is not personal.  The application is being admitted, not the student – and therein lies the rub.

So I’m left with the wise words of Eric, one of my favorite friends who is also one of the best fathers I’ve ever met.  He’s what is known as a mensch, a good and loving man who speaks wisdom in a kind way.  He said, “Sh*t happens.  I think that should be the #1 thing that parents teach their children.”

And you know, he’s right.  Sh*t happens and life is a paradox.  The best things in life most often come disguised as the worst on this crazy planet. The key is to hold on and wait it out to see this truth.

I’m always saying that the college admissions process is really an initiation into the applicant’s adulthood.  If your child was deferred or rejected Early, love them all the more now and remind them who they really are.  Their self-confidence just took a major hit.  This is part of their maturity, part of their initiation.  It’s their firewalk, one we cannot share.  You can’t stop it.  You can’t deflect it.  We don’t know why it happened this way, but remind them that everything works for them and not against them.  They need to know that you have complete belief in them and in life itself.

Less Stress, More Success

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Our book group just read your book and it sparked more conversation than we’ve had in the seven years we’ve been reading together. Being successful professionals with busy lives and even busier children, we’re all trying to figure out how to find the time to just stop and enjoy our lives amidst so much pressure. Some of us find ourselves quoting you to our husbands and kids now, so you are our hero. ;-)
Sophia N. and Nancy R.

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