College Admissions Counseling: Advice From Aristotle

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College counseling has become a bigger part of The Learning Consultants helps our Shoreline Connecticut base through the years.  Through our immersion in understanding the college admissions process, there are a few principles that we have discovered are useful for our clients.

The Golden Mean, Aristotle’s principle for conveying the beautiful middle spot between two extremes, for college admissions demands a mixture of aggression and caution when choosing schools of interest.

In providing college counseling for 15 years,  I have noticed an interesting trend: extreme caution has replaced extreme aggressiveness.

To be clear, I would not want anyone to follow the strategy of a student that I worked with for SAT prep in 2002. Jessica attended The Williams School, the top notch prep school in New London, CT. She only wanted to attend an Ivy-league school. She applied to all 8 and nowhere else.  She was rejected by all 8.  Just a few years before, Jessica likely would have been admitted to at least two or three of the Ivies. But around 2002, the frenzy for admission to elite colleges had taken off and she was caught by surprise.

Over the years, however, I have seen too many students like Caroline, a top performing student from Guilford High School from a few years ago. She would not apply to any school that she thought might reject her. Her list was filled with  schools where she had a very high chance of acceptance.  I should note that her choices had nothing to do with financial considerations but all related to the worry about rejection.

I fully understand the sting that rejection letters create for college applicants.  But setting a precedent like “don’t try if you might get rejected” is a bad precedent for life.  Moreover, she was giving up her chance to attend colleges that may have suited her better by giving up without even trying.