The list of heartbreaking things in our world is pretty damn long right now. It’s easy to feel depressed when we dwell on topics like gun violence, racial tensions, political ineptitude and climate change. But there’s a topic that I’ve really hated seeing added to this list recently, and that is college admissions.
It’s the time of year when schools have just sent out their acceptances (the fat, shiny envelopes) and their rejections (shitty, flimsy envelopes). To the students – and their parents – who applied to college this year, it certainly seems like there are way more of the flimsy envelopes in the mail boxes.

And if you’re a parent who hasn’t been paying attention to college admissions statistics over the past decade, please listen up, so that you’re not the one lamenting on social media in the next few years that your kid is completely heartbroken. These are the current realities of being accepted to a selective school:

Wait, what the hell is a “selective” school, you ask? Technically, it’s any of them that don’t accept everyone, and the list is getting longer each year. Why? So many more applications, yet the same number of spots for incoming students.
Your kid may in fact be a complete rock-star, who achieved badassery their entire four years of high school and they still ain’t gettin’ in to a lot of schools they think they deserve acceptance to.
A student can do everything “right”, appear perfectly matched with what a certain university says they are looking for, and the answer could still very well be NOPE.


Too many people think that because the “product” is education, and schools tout themselves as non-profits, their admissions practices should be fair, transparent and very ethical. This is complete bullshit. Their marketing practices are on par with fast food and soda corporations. They send mailings to millions of students they would never admit – to inflate their application numbers and shrink their acceptance rates. It’s a vicious, ugly little circle of deceit.

And, the adults in these students’ lives often play right into the hands of the schools as well. Instead of helping kids understand the harsh reality of this big game, they allow their own egos to get sucked in too. Parents and college counselors alike enjoy announcing the schools “their” kids applied to, hoping they’ll win the lottery of acceptance. If you don’t play, you can’t win!

Is it any wonder so many of these kids are heartbroken when they don’t get into their dream schools? For about a quarter of their lifetimes, they’ve been instructed and encouraged to jump through the necessary hoops to be able to attend a good college. So many of them have worked their asses off and their families have spent a shitload of money and time on the activities and testing to make them competitive for certain schools – or so they’ve been led to believe. The rejections and the offers of wait lists are devastating to many of them.

So, jeez parents, this trend really needs a total turnaround. Stop buying into the nonsense of these so-called dream schools. They aren’t transparent, so you need to be with your own kids. Do your research and be straight up with them about their chances. There are great schools out there for every kid, and what they do while in college is so much more important than where they go to college.

Explain and keep repeating that certain schools are truly just lotteries. Getting in is akin to winning the Powerball. If you wouldn’t spend thousands buying lottery tickets, should you spend hundreds on application fees to schools with minuscule acceptance rates?

Let’s reserve the heartbreak for life and death matters, not which college name is on a kid’s diploma.


Marybeth, or “MB” as her squad calls her, is breathing a sigh of relief as a new empty-nester Mom of 2 college kids. Cheers to less cooking, less laundry, more pics of her dog and more happy hours. With a Master of Public Health, she silently judges those who don’t use hand sanitizer or sneeze into their elbows. She resides in the desert Southwest with her IV drip of iced coffee, daydreaming about the beach. Her cogitations can also be found on the Scottsdale Moms Blog and Grown and Flown sites. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

1 Comment

  1. The problem I think is that most people think that college is the only option to get a “guaranteed good income”, do not blame them, after all is what is learned.
    The world is so vast, but the limitations that are imposed seem to be more, what remains is to break this barrier not to generate a generation of depressive people.

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