During the admissions season, students’ stress tends to run dangerously high. What with classes, standardized tests, sports, clubs, and all of the other distractions of daily life occurring at once, it sometimes can appear as if the average student is being overloaded with time commitments. Even outside of the application/admissions season, many students find themselves working at breaking point. While this type of stress is unhealthy, a certain level of pressure is nearly unavoidable when trying to make sense of the enigmatic admissions game. Throughout all of this, it is important to remember one key philosophy: keep everything in perspective.
I often see posts on collegeconfidential where a student is panicking, typing something along the lines of: “Will my first A- this semester guarantee me a rejection from all of the colleges I apply to?!?” The first problem with this situation is that any ol’ responder cannot give an accurate answer; to do so, the responder would have to know the school’s reputation, the rest of the asker’s schedule, the historic difficulty of classes at the asker’s school, etc., etc. Clearly, whoever is asking this type of question needs to lower their level of stress; no rational person could expect a realistic answer!
For these types of questions, only one person truly knows the answer: the asker themself. They would not be asking the question on an anonymous internet forum if there were not extenuating circumstances to their getting the grade. Perhaps the rest of the class all received high A’s, and they slacked off. Perhaps they are just looking for attention and praise for their otherwise spotless transcript. Whatever the reason, I will be so bold as to make this statement: many students have gotten into top schools with B’s on their transcripts*. There- let the speculation end! I have no hard statistics to back this assertion up, although a plethora of anecdotal evidence supports this. Furthermore, elite college may even prefer a less-than-perfect transcript; a few B’s simply means that the student isn’t a grade-obsessed robot.
Once again, the crux of this post is that students should keep everything in perspective; unduly stressing out about college admissions is advantageous to no one. If you apply to Harvard with a B on your transcript, will you get rejected? Probably; about 6% of Harvard applicants for the class of 2015 will be accepted. The more important aspect of this statistic is that 94% of Harvard applicants will be rejected. If you are rejected, than it will not be because of a single A- or a single B; the admissions process is far too cryptic to single out one determining factor.
When stressing out about college admissions, remember this: try your hardest, stay honest to yourself, and, when colleges announce their decisions, you’ll have no regrets.
*At some well-known schools (competitive magnet schools, highly ranked private schools) it is even acceptable to receive 1 or 2 C’s on one’s transcript
(Photo by marlin harms)