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How to Deal with College Admission Competition

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How to Deal with College Admission Competition

As spring approaches, colleges will be making their admissions decisions.

As peer pressure goes, there is no greater pressure than that inflicted on each other over college applications and acceptances. For many teens, the pressure becomes overwhelming and may interfere with a logical college choice. Unfortunately, the bragging starts in the fall when applications are submitted and crescendos in the spring when offers of admission arrive.


Since it’s difficult to avoid the competition over college among teens, here are a few tips that might help when dealing with these rivalries:

Don’t be a braggart.

Of course every teen is excited when they receive an offer of admission from a college. But remember that not everyone hears back at the same time, and some may receive rejection letters or be waitlisted. Share the news and leave it at that. Don’t rub it in or brag about the fact that you were accepted and others weren’t. Your friends are there to rejoice with you, but be sensitive about their feelings too.

Curb any jealousy you might feel.

It’s hard not to be envious or jealous of other teens’ achievements, especially if you feel your accomplishments are not as significant. You are who you are and you should be proud of the fact that you are applying to college and proud of any acceptances you receive. Comparing yourself to others will only make you unhappy and will hinder your ability to rejoice about your peers' accomplishments.

Be true to yourself.

When it comes down to it, the choices and decisions should be made based on what is best for you. Applying to or choosing a college should be based on your own criteria, not based on those of other teens. When competition rears its ugly head, remind yourself that you and you alone will be attending the college you choose. If your choice is strongly based on bragging rights or rivalries with other teens, you may not be pleased once you arrive on campus. If you make a choice based on your own specifics (location, available majors, and financial aid, etc.), you will have a much happier transition into college. Just be sure that you choose based on fit and not on reputation or status.

An education is what you make of it.

It’s your responsibility, no matter where you attend, to make the most of your education. While some would like you to believe that their college is superior, brush it off. College is more than a badge of honor or bragging rights. It’s more about the degree you obtain, the experiences you have and the networking opportunities you take advantage of while attending. Even though it seems like the biggest decision of your life right now and you’re tempted to compare your choices with others, it’s not going to matter as much in the future.

Everything happens for a reason.

Rejection from your first choice college will most likely lead to a re-examination of the other schools on your list. You might ultimately find a better fit and recognize that you had ignored one of the schools while hoping for another. Students often realize that even though they were rejected from one college, they ended up having a positive experience at a different institution.

One thing you can be sure of—college will be what you make of it. The rivalries and competition that occur in high school will be overshadowed by the experiences you will have over the next four years. High school will become a distant memory as you move past college and into your future occupation.

Will Walker, a high school student, recently said, “College plans always work out, even when they don’t.” The New York Times posted his video and if you watch it, you will see why he feels the way he does. I couldn’t have said it better myself!

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Written by Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer counsels parents and students in the college admissions process and the importance of early college preparation. Her Parents Countdown to College Coach blog offers timely college tips for parents and students, as well as providing parents with the resources necessary to help their college-bound teens navigate the college maze.

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