Why didn’t I get accepted to my Ivy League college of choice?

Kareem LaTouche, Youthlink Coordinator

Dear Counsellor:
I am a 19-year-old male and I am concerned that my college applications have not been going as expected. I have 11 distinctions in CSEC and six distinctions in CAPE. I know that I am an excellent student, so why am I not being accepted to my first- or even second-choice Ivy League college? I am bordering on depression, as some of my friends have been accepted to colleges of their choice and I have not been. What is the problem? Is it that I am too qualified? Should I have omitted some of my accomplishments? I am actively involved in my community and my church. Is God punishing me? I am not necessarily athletically inclined ... should I have taken up a sport? What should I do?

Dear O.P.,
Congratulations on your impressive academic accomplishment! That indicates that you are focused and dedicated to your academic responsibility. I recognise that you have sent applications to Ivy League colleges and that you have not been accepted to your first- or second-choice institution. Colleges, in deciding on the students’ applications and acceptance, have diverse criteria and have an idea as to the type of students, especially if you are an international student, to whom they will make the offer of an academic opportunity. I am not in a position to tell you why you have not been accepted into your choice of college, however, we can look at the reality of your situation:

You obviously meet the academic criteria.
You can never be too qualified for any position or vocation in life.
Honesty is always the best policy, you should never ‘under present’ or ‘dumb down’ yourself; always give the full picture of who you are, and what you have accomplished and what you can accomplish.

Never compare yourself to others; each of us is unique, diverse and accomplished in our own way. Always support others and their accomplishments and stay focused on being the best you.

Your extra-curricular activities are always advantageous to your application. Questioning your participation in sports now seems unfair (to you) and will not change your situation. College personnelknow that not all students are athletically inclined, so you can stop beating yourself up.

Have you ever thought that these Ivy League colleges may not be a best fit your particular skill set?

I recognise that you are active in your church? Have you given any thought that your choice of college is not what is pre-ordained for you? As a Christian, you ought to trust that God will guide you to where you ought to be. God is not punishing you, as He has already given you the gift of brilliance as evidenced by your academic accomplishments.

You did not state if you applied for a scholarship? If you have, it may be possible that the colleges are experiencing financial challenges and may not be able to provide adequately to meet your needs. It may be a policy issue, of which you have no control.

I hear when you say that you are bordering on being depressed ... and this I can understand. You see, when our expectations are unmet, it causes us to feel sad, demotivated, disappointed and depressed, all of which are natural emotions that we all feel at some time or other. The ability to see alternatives or other options is disabled because we get so focused on that one goal.

Your acceptance into a college is guaranteed based on the presentation of grades and extracurricular activities. It obviously is not going to be your first-choice or second-choice college, however, your prospects of a tertiary, is more likely than others with less prolific achievements. Many times in life we do not always get what we ask for, but it does not mean that we do not give of our best with what we have. Look at this as an opportunity to attend a college where your impact may be greater. Not wanting to sound cliché, but ‘bloom where you are planted’.

Please let me know when you get that acceptance letter. I wish you all the very best. Congratulations!!! You have already been accepted.

Dr Karelle Hytlon, PhD
Counselling Psychologist

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