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.


  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.

  2. Pingback: Students Share Their Best Life Hacks For Surviving School

  3. Let me come at this from a slightly different perspective, especially when you are thinking about your state’s flagship school (or any state institution that is not able to admit everyone). You are a voter. You have power. Talk to your state legislators about funding for higher education. Vote for taxes that will support higher education (and primary/secondary education).
    I work for a major public university, my state’s flagship school. I work in an in-demand department that has not been allowed to grow, due to the lack of state funding. I’ve been in this department for over 5 years. I think the highest acceptance rate we have had for our undergrads in that time is 12%. This year it is 8%. NO ONE thinks this is a good thing. It breaks our hearts every year to have to turn away so many obviously qualified, talented, and passionate students. But we simply do not have the capacity to teach them. We do not have the faculty. We do not have enough appropriate facilities (we’re an engineering program). We do not have enough support staff.
    We WANT to take more. We would like our acceptance rate to be closer to 33%. But until the state legislature gives more money to our University as a whole, our college, or our department, until we get the support needed to take more students, this is where we are.
    And I promise you, none of us are happy about it.

Write A Comment

Pin It