Rejected From College: Why?

Parent Month continues! Today I’m actually answering a parent, Jim, whose daughter was rejected from college. He wants to know why.

My daughter graduated with distinguished honor (3.80 or over) (top 10% of the class) from high school in June. The college application process was grueling.

Ain’t it, though? I’m not looking forward to it when my kids reach that age, even though it’s what I do for a living these days.

To begin with my daughter did not do well on the SAT. We sent her to a weekend course and when she took the SAT again, she got the same score of 1600. 650 Math, 490 Writing 460 Reading/English. We decided not to take the test again.

It's true, you know.

More on this in a second, but my best guess is that the low test scores hurt her pretty bad. And of course I refer to the writing and reading parts — the math score is obviously a good one.

My child wanted to go to Duke University, Vanderbilt University, Wash U in St. Louis, U of Penn, or Emory U.

All very tough, very highly rated private schools, for sure.

In high school she attend Wash U for one summer and earned 7 college credits (GPA 3.81/4.00), and attend Penn State U and earned 11 college credits 1-4-credit Calculus II Honors Course with a 4.00; (GPA 3.59/4.00).

Impressive numbers there, for sure!

In high school, she took all CPA or college prep advanced courses except for English which were all Academic; she took CPA in Biology I, Chem I, II, Geometry , Pre-Calculus, Spanish II, III, IV V.

Also very good. I’m noticing that the chink in her armor seems to be English, though. 🙁 More on that in a second.

She was active in concert, marching and jazz bands, National Honor Society, Sports 2 of them, Student Council, etc. She was a HOBY delegate and attended other leadership development trainings selected by the school administration to attend.

Well, I have to say, she seems to have an outstanding resume of courses and activities. She couldn’t have done much more to impress anyone in that regard.

She was rejected by most of the colleges all but Emory. These are the same colleges who state the SAT’s are not considered to be a major factor in decisions.

Yeah — I think most colleges are saying that nowadays in order to appear less rigid, but they’re still using them to benchmark students. Even if they say they’re not, as long as that SAT score is glaring back at them on the application, I don’t see how they can NOT be taking it into account, at least psychologically.

I would think the grades she received in her college classes and the honors class would far out-weigh the low scores on the SAT. What are your thoughts? Why was she rejected? Am I right about the college courses?

While figuring out what the hell an admissions board was thinking is usually a difficult endeavor, I actually feel relatively certain I know exactly why she was rejected from college. It’s a combination of two things: weak SAT reading/writing scores, and the ultra-competitiveness of each school she selected.

Many colleges would forgive the English-related weakness since she’s so accomplished in math (and also has an incredibly strong resume of activities, etc.). But the schools that won’t forgive any deficiency in a student’s application are the super-competitive, top-flight schools, and every single one you mentioned is in that class. I’m actually kinda surprised she got into Emory, even (which, by the way, congrats!). It’s a helluva school, so celebrate that victory for sure.

I looked up average SAT scores, and both her writing and reading scores are below the national average, and even with the excellence everywhere else, the best-of-the-best schools will reject that most of the time, unless they perceive that she was disadvantaged in some way (minority status, socioeconomic status, etc.).

The college courses surely bolstered her application, but I’m guessing none were in English, her weak area. So they probably just reinforced her excellence in math and didn’t do much to allay any concerns about her English and writing skills.

And that’s another thing that may have gone wrong in the application; her essays may have been weak. I haven’t seen them, of course, but just guessing based on the writing/English scores. I would argue that writing is the most important skill to have, if you had to choose only one. Even if you don’t know anything else about any other topic, as long as you can write well, you can at least bullshit other people into thinking you know more than you actually do. 🙂

Thank you for taking your time to assist me. I have been trying to explain to my daughter why I think she was rejected by most of her favorite colleges. I read your column daily.

Sure, and thank you for writing (and reading!). Email me privately if you want some more feedback on this. I don’t know how she’s taking being rejected from college emotionally (I’m guessing not well, but that’s just a guess), but there are tons of options for her out there, and I’d hate to see a great math student derailed because of this initial discouraging experience. Lord knows we need all the math wizards we can get our hands on here in America.

Please fill us in on some additional information in the comments, if you don’t mind. What are her plans? Is she going to go to Emory, and if not, is she applying elsewhere? I don’t know if finances are an issue for your family, but if she’s able to bring up those English and Reading scores by even 50 points apiece, then she should be able to pull some pretty decent scholarships from either smaller schools or larger state schools. Honestly, from anywhere except the ultra-competitive schools that she likes so much!

And how to do that? Well, if it were me, I would look at tutoring, and specifically, online stuff. You can get hellaciously cheap and high-quality English tutoring online from overseas tutors. And I’m talking about face-to-face (via Webcam) instruction from people with Master’s degrees and/or Ph.Ds.

Check out sites like and You’d be surprised at how many extremely good tutors there are out there for little more than U.S. minimum wage. (Of course, you can get these services via domestic tutors as well, but they usually cost a bit more.)

Has she taken the ACT? It’s a good alternative, and it also includes a science portion that I’m guessing your daughter would do pretty well on. A full half of the ACT is math and science, then, vs. 1/3 of the SAT, putting the weighting more in her favor.

— That’s all I’ve got today. What about you all? I’m sure you have plenty of commentary and suggestions about being rejected from college. Let us know in the comments below!

30 thoughts on “Rejected From College: Why?”

  1. Geez, I wanna give Jim’s daughter a big hug, and then Jim a hug and a beer. My firstborn is off to college this year and even with an SAT of 2100+ she had a hard time. Up until last week, we were sweating bullets on how we were going to pay for “the expensive school” because that was the one that she a) wanted to go to, and b) was accepted to. Thank goodness for Pells and scholarships. Oh, and menial college jobs. 😀

  2. I myself was rejected from my dream schools when I made my first attempt at college (granted it was nearly 15 years ago). I had all the “right stuff” on my resume’- top grades, clubs, AP classes in every subject, volunteering, work experience, high ACT scores, work experience. I was devastated when schools like UNC Chapel Hill refused to admit me. However, I took the advice of my high school counselor and applied to a couple of “back-up schools.” Some were in-state universities while others were smaller out-of state colleges. I was not only accepted to all of my back-up schools, but was offered full rides at each. The idea behind the Plan B schools was to attend and transfer to the school of my choice, assuming that was something that I still wanted to do.
    If your daughter was given similar advice and was admitted to her Plan B schools, my advice would be to attend one of those for a couple of years. While she’s there, it would be a great opprotunity to not only get some of her pre-reqs out of the way, but to take advantage of any writing programs that the institution might offer students. The same could be said for a community college. I understand that she had her sights set high (and that’s great! My hope is to attend PennState for my Masters), but in-state schools and CCs are great places to start an academic career. Tutors are offered at most colleges/universities free of charge and if she were to combine tutoring with her English Comp classes and peer review programs it could certainly help her improve her writing skills.
    I know she is most likely taking the rejection hard, and I know that it must be difficult to try and explain to your daughter that she shouldn’t try to take it so personally. I wish you and your daughter the best of luck!

  3. This is what I’m terrified of! There is really only one graduate school on which my heart is set and my worst fear is that they will reject me based on grades. Luckily, undergraduate programs are what you make of them and I’d suggest that Jim’s daughter apply to more “Plan B” schools and maybe get her pre-requisites out of the way like a previous poster mentioned.

    If she does that, though, make sure you check with her dream program to make sure that they will transfer in.

    But hey, Emory’s a great school! No need to change your plans just because you only got into 1 of the 5. Go with what you’ve got, and good luck! 🙂

  4. Am tanzanian by nationality. At the first time when l made my application to a certain university for a degree my application was accepted and they gave me a scholarship of 15% but bcoz of my poor income l failed to pay the remaining percentage. I hope my request will be considered.

  5. It’s not a big deal! I also was a distinguished scholar in high school and I graduated with a 4.19 GPA and advanced placement courses. I was even ranked 9th in my whole graduating class, but I was rejected from all but one of the nine universities to which I applied. Granted, I got a 24 on my ACT which was low, but til today I still don’t know why I could have been rejected from all those schools when I spent months preparing applications and writing essays. Nevertheless, today I attend one the best schools in Illinois and I am glad that I was rejected from all the rest.

    I cannot tell you why you were rejected from all those schools and I guarantee you that you’ll never find out why. However, you must look to the future because it’s possible that that one college that accepted you will be the best fit for you physically, academically, spiritually, and mentally. For me, my school made very easy the transition from high school senior who knew nothing about engineering to college student who was building circuits in labs. I was even offered a position as a research assistant and I was paid for the job. Despite these things, the pain of getting those rejections took months to heal and no doubt it will take you months perhaps longer to heal. Ultimately, there is a bright side to this, and you can only see it once you start attending that college that accepts you.

  6. With high math scores like that, I think she should definitely explore state schools and maybe even community colleges! She may be considered for all kinds of scholarships and grants! Also, if she attends a community college for a couple years, she would have the opportunity to approve her reading/writing skills while networking, spending less money, and getting those general eds out of the way!

    Or, since she got into one of her top schools (Emory), she could always go with that one.

    I agree with Josh that no matter which school she chooses to attend, she should look into tutoring for reading and writing. A genius needs to be able to express her thoughts and ideas clearly! =) Best of luck to you!

  7. Congrats to your daughter for getting into Emory. I assume that she is off to college this fall and so applying to Plan B schools is not much of a choice. I know many schools begin instruction soon, including CCs.
    As for getting rejections, it does seem a bit (more like very harsh) that she got rejected to all those schools, but that is the risk you take. Once you submit the application, it is up to AdComms to accept/reject. The more schools you apply to, the higher the chances that you will get some rejections. I applied to 16 schools and got rejected to 7. All the ones I did get accepted into were public universities, UCs, Cal States, and two east coast privates. All the really competitive schools rejected my application. Another thing not mentioned here, but I’m not sure if it affected her application, but I think it affected mine, were correspondence/interviews with those top universities.

  8. On a different note, I had great grades all around — the SATs included — but I wasn’t accepted to UC Berkeley, yet someone with worse grades but a large grouping of sports was. It seems like they will go for any weakness they can find.

  9. Though your daughter did seem to do better than the average student, the schools that she wanted to go to really demand at least much more numerically than what your daughter had to offer. All the people that I know that got into top 5 schools as listed by the US & News World Report including myself had a lot of credentials. For example, for me to get into my dream school, I was constantly in the Top 1% with over 1/2 my course load as AP classes which I started from freshman year, was a very good athlete, won numerous scholarships, was presidents of many clubs, did internships every summer since I was a freshman including research in medicine and physics, was presidents of lots of clubs, and had numerous other qualifications. And even with all of this I still got rejected from schools and I have friends that got to the semis of big national competitions such as Siemens and still ended did not even get into schools such as UPenn.

  10. I would guess that the major problem here was the SAT. I mean no offence to anyone here, but the SAT I is not a hard test. I scored 2000 without studying and lacking sleep. (I did not go to an American school, my parents just wanted me to take the SATs) If you can’t get high scores on a test like that, competitive schools will not look at you. That being said, there’s always grad school.

  11. I feel for Jim and his daughter, but the low reading/writing scores seem to be less uncommon, unfortunately. I’m a grad assistant who grades coursework for freshman-level courses, and so many of our students were top-flight at their high schools in math and sciences but very weak in reading and writing. High schools (at least in my area) are increasingly pushing the former subjects and de-emphasizing the latter, at the expense of students applying for, then just starting, university-level work.

    So the students get to my classes and struggle with writing-intensive courses; they then need extensive tutoring or need to take remediation courses in writing, both things that a university does not want much of, if they can help it. Tutors and additional remediation courses mean hiring more people, and even if they’re just grad students, it’s still a time and energy outlay.

    The best thing I can suggest (beyond tutoring, which was suggested above) is to have her increase her reading and writing activities. Read anything and everything–newspapers, novels, magazines, high literature, pop lit, you name it. Just reading will help quite a bit. Pair it with writing about what she’s read (comprehension, analysis, critiques, that sort of thing), and that’ll also boost her skills. Improvement takes time, but it’s well worth the effort.

    Good luck!

  12. I scored 2310 on SAT and have a 4.3 GPA in high school.
    Didn’t even bother to apply to these top notch private schools. 🙁
    these schools are highly competitive–people regularly apply with an impressive application. Maybe if you have try SAT again, things would have been much different.

  13. Jim’s Daughter,
    I agree. Use your first two years at a Plan B college, earn exceptional grades, become a member of their honor society and apply to your chosen A schools with transfer scholarship requests later. You will not only save yourself money but excess stress before your junior year.
    Good luck.

  14. Jim’s daughter, congrats for getting accepted a good college, even thou it wasn’t one of your first options. At least you have the potential to be the best at whatever school you decide to go to. Let me say first that I would have been helpful to know in what high school did you study. This is important because, for example, here in NY, specially in the sector I went to school to, HS do not have the best education levels in the country. I learned this way after graduation and it was a big problem when I had to face the TERRIBLE SAT’s!! (pam pam paaamm!)… Yea, my HS sucked!, it almost got closed after it received an F grade (now it went up to a C, big deal).. I also learned that they would do whatever they could to have more students graduating so it could look good in their reports… But now, about 46% of college freshmen get placed in probation classes (those that you don’t get credit from), costing students more money (or FASFA, for that matter) and time. What I want to get at is that I was also an EXCELLENT student in my HS, but I wasn’t at the level to excel in the SAT’s…. so this might not be your case, but it is for most students who do not do well in that test. Another thing that I want to mention is that Judge Josh is right about the AWESOME ACT’s…. This test, which is also very challenging, is what save me to get accepted in the college I am today. I did way better the first (and only) time I took it. My strength was mathematics as well, compared to my not-so-good writing (My first language is not English). The best thing about the ACT’s is that you don’t loose points from wrong answers, like the SAT’s, so you are free to make guesses!… Jim’s daughter, I hope this helps, rmmbr, that you should be proud to be among the luckiest woman in history to seat side by side with men receiving the same high quality education, and that is something some woman are still fighting for in other parts of the world… plus! you can always transfer to another college, after one year, they’ll forget about your SAT’s scores. =)

  15. Charlotte Hyatt

    Congrats on getting into Emory, a top-notch school.It hurts not to get our first choices but, you can only go to one college no matter how many you applied to.

    Try to relax and enjoy the great school you are going to. Get a tutor and make those other schools sorry they did not choose you!

  16. Essays are really important. I applied to several top notch schools, with Dartmouth as my first pick. My ACT (32) and SAT II (650 & 720) scores were in line with several people who I know personally that attend Dartmouth. However, I rushed my essay and it was a mediocre piece writing. I did not get accepted. One of my friends works in the Admissions Office and he told me essays are one of the most important factors in an application.

    Bottom Line:
    You need good test scores but essays are just as, if not more, important

  17. Ok getting rejected by 4 out of 5 schools hurts. However, she can only attend one college at a time, and Emery is nothing to sneeze at, so even if she had been accepted to all of them she would still be attending 1.

    The low English skills will hurt her through out her life. The number one big complaint of bosses is poor communication–writing/reading–skills. Just over 80% of folks that don’t get hired is due to lack of communication skills. So get on this A.S.A.P. Get her tutoring, or help in this area of some kind. If not even Emery is going to be a huge struggle for her if she doesn’t.

    Being great at math is nice, but if she can’t communicate her ideas clearly then it won’t matter. It is sad but true. If she put all her eggs in the “I just need to wow them with math” basket she will continue to loose out. There will be a lot of writing requirements as she goes through college, and bad grades in those will pull down her GPA, and hold her back in some cases.

    English skills can reflect speaking skills as well. So her low English scores could have impacted her interviewing skills. Thus making her look like a less impressive candidate.

    So be glad with getting into Emery–a top school. But also don’t just let her sail along on math profeciency. Get her working on bring up that English skill set and she will find that it makes her expereinces going forward more rewarding.

  18. This particular topic hit close to home.

    My oldest was an academic overachiever. She graduated in the top 10 of a class of around 600 at a highly competitive school where a B average puts you in lower 50% of the class. She had one B her entire high school career, including nearly all APs her junior and senior years. She had decent (not spectacular but still very good) extra curricular activities in and out of school; worked part time; had an ACT of 32; and has excellent communication skills (35 or 36 on the English/Reading sub scores). She interviews extremely well and is poised and professional. Yet, she was accepted to NONE of her top tier schools (one wait listed her) and ALL of her Plan B, including generous scholarship offers.

    Why? We will never know. She had to work through some seriously difficult emotions, trying to overcome feeling inadequate and feeling like a failure. I don’t think anyone ever believed she would be rejected from all of them…I know I thought at least ONE of them would accept her.

    BUT…and this is the real reason I’m writing, she settled on a school in Ohio that her counselor suggested, one that she never would have considered without her counselor’s involvement. It turns out this particular school has such a proven reputation with global corporations that she was recruited by a multi-billion dollar company for its highly-competitive internship development program this summer. Only 8 students made the cut this year to spend a week at the firm’s corporate headquarters, meeting with executives and human resources personnel and learning about its operations. Several of the eight attend Ivies.

    Four days after she returned home, she received an offer letter for a very well-paid internship there next summer; virtually all of this company’s staff were interns hired upon graduation. She’s entering her junior year feeling pretty good about her career prospects upon graduation and knowing she already has a fantastic offer on the table for her pre-senior year internship.

    The rejection is brutal. But in hindsight, it probably was for the best. My daughter is one of the top students at her school instead of a middling student at her first choice colleges. She “fits” the school where she is attending, working very hard, but not under unrelenting pressure to excel. Most importantly, since it’s a primary reason she is going to college, her Plan B’s reputation gave her the foot in the door she needed for next summer’s internship and possibly beyond.

    As nice as it might have been to say she attends _______ (fill in the top tier name), there are plenty of bragging rights about the school she does attend…and the results it has already helped her achieve.

  19. My boyfriend is a chemical engineering professor at a major university, who is also in charge of his department’s recruiting. They see kids all the time who have great GPA’s and only have mediocre SAT’s, but blow the ACT scores out of the water. He’s in a scientific department, so they are more interested in the ACT anyway. The lowest ACT accepted last year in his department was a 26, because they had so many great applications. Depending on her anticipated career path, she may want to consider taking the ACT if she hasn’t, and even though she’s been accepted and may attend Emory this semester/year, she can use it later to get into another school if she wants.

    The downside of choosing kids with high ACT’s and mediocre SAT’s doesn’t always show in spades until they are masters students, if they haven’t taken advantage of opportunities to polish up their reading/writing skills. What happens is that they start trying to submit articles for publication or writing their master/PhD thesis, and even though their work is stellar, they end up having to either revise a hundred times or hire a technical writer to assist them (I think he said it was about $1200-1500 for a preliminary defense document). This is frustrating, not only for the student, but also for the professor advising them. The ones who really care, like my boyfriend does (almost too much sometimes), end up feeling like they’ve failed because they aren’t better writers by the time they’ve gotten to this level.

    Ultimately, it costs the student. A student who is this intelligent and scientifically and mathematically gifted has to be able to articulate themselves well in order to succeed professionally as well, as they are usually very ambitious (as evidenced by your daughter’s choice of schools), and will likely end up publishing papers and speaking at professional conferences for the rest of their careers.

    When I went back to college at age 35, I was a terrible writer. I found that having my boyfriend review my papers, telling him to be frank and harsh with me, has improved my writing dramatically. He did it in a way that he would pick and play with me, and would have me LMAO by the time we finished going over what I needed to correct (the papers started out with more red than black by the time he finished editing ), so I didn’t feel like he was saying it, but frankly, my writing sucked. Even though she’s heading off to college, and can get the general tutoring online to improve her skills, I would suggest that she find someone to do for her what my boyfriend did for me. You may have to pay them, but the long-term rewards, and the improved grades that will result, are well worth it.

  20. Jim:


    1) ENGLISH/WRITING: First, maybe get her tested to see if she has a deficiency (maybe a slight ?hiccup? in her reading/writing processing). My daughter had the opposite problem: She scored well in standardized tests in math, but her work was all over the place. It turns out that she has “Mathematics Disorder” — what Einstein was guessed to have. Universities like to have ?explanations? and a plan to deal with them so them they can focus on your daughter?s strengths. They do not want to take on a kid with an unexplained problem only to flunk out. And she will have to write in nearly every class she takes. So with this testing (only by a PhD), you will want to get a diagnoses and recommendations. This will give you ammunition to explain that while she can DO THE WORK, she just doesn?t test well in English. NOW–If she has an education deficient (like I had) and not a processing problem, pick up the workbook, “The Least You Should Know About English”. It’s a college-level review and workbook of all the basic English that she likely missed while growing up. (She’ll have a hard time getting through college, no matter what her major, if she lacks strength in English/Writing. Even national science competitions base their awards on ?communicating? science?not just the actual science achievements!) When I attended college, I flunked the entrance exam in English (I came from an over-crowded school system). I took the remedial course with this workbook. The next semester I was placed into the Honors English program. I never intended to make this my career but my communications were so strong, I later became the Head Writer of a Division of one of the ‘Big 3″ automakers, was hired as a Senior Executive at a major communications firm, and became a published writer — all from the tools from this little workbook. It’s simple enough for her to go through and do the exercises herself, but working in a vacuum is not good or fun. Having fun is important as it imprints in a better manner on the brain. I suggest that you contact a local (and friendly) English Professor/GSI to work with her with this book. (Don?t let anyone talk you into a different workbook!) I’ve recommended this book to hundreds of people, from known Politicians to FBI agents consulting with major writers and on major films with stars like George Clooney. It works!

    2) TESTING: After using the workbook (above), she should take the ACT. Often, people who don’t do well on the SAT do better on the ACT — it’s just a different format, and offers the Science portion which might impress the schools and even get her scholarships (as it did for my kids). If she does well on the ACT, she can always just say she was ‘out of sorts’ when taking the SAT.

    3) COLLEGES: Not sure if I missed it, but didn’t see what her intended academic major is…All I can say is to make sure she attends a college that is a good match with HER–academically and personality wise. Two of my kids were very-top (NO 1 in several cases) recruits with complete full ride offers to the schools you mention as well as Johns Hopkins, MIT, Harvard, Yale, USC, and more. (FYI: They learned English via my suggested workbook!) We used those offers with other schools that better fit their personality and offered a broader choice of interests while still ranking in the top 10, as sometimes those additional interests become major interests. My kids ended up being very happy with those alternative choices. My daughter attended/graduated from U of Miami (FL). My youngest son attended a big 10 school. Each of these schools offer several majors/interests that the ivy schools could not satisfy as good as they are, and once a student gets into her/his dream school, they often want to change their major only to discover that their choices are quite limited. Have her pick a college based on it’s ranking at the topic/s she is interested in majoring in (if she knows) and also has solid rankings in cross-over academic areas that she likes as well as one that offers clubs, etc. that she likes. Then make sure she goes there to visit for several days and attends classes. After all, it will be her HOME for years to come.

    FYI: My kids have beat out many of the Ivy kids for jobs. It?s not where one goes, but how one does. She might be better in a smaller setting with less pressure so she can bloom.

    Hope this helps.

  21. While it’s obvious that she is an outstanding student, her low scores in English became a defining factor in whether she was admitted or not. I know because I was admitted into Duke and Vanderbilt with a similarly strong resume but much better English grades.

  22. I feel for Jim and his daughter! It’s so hard to feel like you’ve done everything “right” and it’s not good enough-especially when so many other people get in. As many people have said, know that these school’s appraisals of your child do not set a limit on what she can accomplish. Also, what people have said is true about the really intense schools. I recently graduated from the University of Penn and I think it depended on my SATs, because EVERYONE there is class president, hundreds are valedictorians, and most are already excellent writers. What helped me take my SAT scores from okay to pretty great (2200+) was private tutoring. I only needed a few sessions, and the tutor was really great. So that’s something to consider. But yeah, even if your SAT scores aren’t amazing, they definitely have to be close- being below the national average can sometimes instantly disqualify you. Also (and I’m sure your daughter doesn’t want to hear this), you don’t HAVE to go to top schools like UPenn to do extremely well! Lots of people overlook fantastic schools simply because they’re not top 20. One should go to a school that can support them academically, professionally, emotionally, give them room and encouragement to develop, and NOT SEND THEM TO THE POORHOUSE. Tons of liberal arts colleges and even well ranked public schools (like UConn for example) are amazing schools with tons of funding to support their students and are also affordable! Penn and lots of other schools will send you to the poorhouse if you let them. As a graduate of UPenn and now graduate student at Harvard, I know that people put a lot of stake in the “names,” but I think going to these “elite” schools only teaches you that you really are the person who could’ve succeeded anywhere.

  23. Dear Jim,

    Sorry about your daughter’s rejection from the universities that she highly favored. I’m a college senior now, but I still read this website and other high stuff because I have cousins that need my help getting into college.

    I don’t know what your daughter wrote on her college application, but there are 2 things that I can tell you with confidence. 1) Strong writing ability is highly crucial. It doesn’t matter how much a student achieve, but if a student cannot put into meaningful words the reasons, aspirations, goals, etc… behind all the things that she has done, then it makes her look like a robot, instead of an inspirational person who has alot of motivation, drive, and ambition to accomplish whatever it is that she sets out to do. Nobody wants to read a laundry list. I know that not alot of students can do what you daughter has done (but trust me, there are amazing high school students out there – ever heard of immigrant students taking International Baccalaurate, AP, getting full scores on the SAT/ACT, volunteer, and having jobs all at the same time? The circumstances in their lives would put alot of us to shame.), but they are basically empty deeds to college admission counselors who are trying to picture everything about your daughter, including her personality. For all they know, the student could just be doing what their parents tell them to do, and really don’t care about what they did and did a half-ass job … but still counted it anyways. I promise you college admission counselors expect better from youths of this generation. Nobody wants a lazy ass kid to enter a prestigious school. They want a smart, confident, mature and ambitious youth looking to help save the world from the mistakes of the previous generations and to help prevent more idiocy from their own generation.

    2) On that note about personality, your daughter did not get accepted because the admission counselors probably did not think that your daughter’s personality would click with the vibe or personality of the study body/ contribute in positive ways to the campus. In that regard, they’re actually doing the daughter a favor, because they don’t want your daughter to waste time and end up feeling regretful that she made a mistake. So, your daughter should be a good sport, cheer up, drink some orange juice/lemonade/something with lots of Vitamin C, start looking on the positive side, and graciously thank those admission counselors for making an educated decision.

    I will not brag about how I got into college, b/c that’s not a point. I just feel like I should give you and daughter some advice because I’ve been through it all by myself. I’m a first generation immigrant college student and my parents don’t speak English, so of course I have to smart up and take advantage of all the resources around me to get where I wanted to go. It’s okay if you don’t trust my words. I am a stranger after all. I have nothing to lose : )

  24. Honestly, going to a good college is great, but getting out of college with less debt is better. I would look into seeing if she can get a full ride scholarship at a less prestigious school, or go to a community college and transfer to a big name school. I know some of the smartest people in my high school graduating class took these options, powered through school, and are now working on there MA’s at prestigious Universities.

  25. to make this short:
    She is an intelligent and strong young lady! Let her know that she should not worry or be upset at this. yes, it isn’t the best feeling to receive a rejection letter, but count it all joy (be happy and look at the positive things!) 😀 God Bless!

  26. I didn’t really apply to many schools that had tough entrance requirements; Purdue accepts about 80% of the people who apply and Rose-Hulman accepts about 60% and have rolling admissions. I applied early to Rose-Hulman and got accepted, and I have a Presidential scholarship to Purdue. However, even with my test scores, I am terrified (and dreading) for when I get back the results for my top choice – MIT. The acceptance rate is only about 10-20% and I’m afraid I’m not “well rounded” enough to get in.
    I have taken the SAT I and the ACT twice, improving my scores both times. My SAT score went from a 1800 something to a 2200. The only difference was a few classes! My main weakness in both of them, though, was the essay writing. I simply don’t write essays well! It showed in those scores and in my AP scores: the lowest AP score I got was in lit/comp.
    My problem with essays, i understand, is that I’m just not a very good BS’er. If I have a good grasp on the facts of an issue, then I do fine.
    Your daughter might have done well with some college english prep classes that are aimed specifically at improving writing and comprehension. I know that some people who are strong in math simply don’t do as well in english and language arts type courses. Ironically they also seem to be very artistic.
    It may have also been to her benefit to apply to some “safe” schools who would accept her with only a few raised eyebrows at her test scores. I would have applied to U of M, for example, except that I had already been accepted to both Rose-Hulman and Purdue.
    Best of luck to your daughter (and your wallet)!

  27. Female Engineer

    To me the big question is what does your daughter want to do as a career? Are these schools the right ones for that career? Given her talent in math and science, perhaps engineering is the right career. English, though important, isn’t as critical as math and science. When you look at the lists of the top-paying careers, engineering is right at the top. The schools you list are not the best schools for engineering. Perhaps she should do more investigation into the best career given her skills and interests.

  28. My son applied to Wash U and got waitlisted. There were roughly 28,000 applications for 1300 spots and 40% are international acceptances. You have to have the best SAT/ACT, GPA, EC’s, etc. Wash U is not need blind. If you don’t get one of the big scholarships, you have to be able to pay.

    My son had a 35 on the ACT, 2140 SAT (790 in Math), ranked in top 10 of 600 kids, weighted GPA of 4.45, unweighted GPA of 3.9, etc. He was waitlisted to 2 top schools. We don’t expect to hear anything.

    He was accepted to state public school which he will attend. He did get offered full tution scholarship to small private school which he decided not to attend since it was too small. We feel your pain!!

    I think plan b state school with grad school will work out fine for us and the price tag is much better than plan a.

  29. I’d just like to point out the SAT and ACT are two totally different tests. The way it was explained to me, the SAT tries to measure your capability. The ACT tries to measure what you already know. This makes the ACT much easier to study for and ( I think) is a better representation of your knowledge. In any case, she may find that the ACT numbers look better on an application.

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