Podcast: Let’s Get Tactical: Early Results Are Coming Out

Early results are here! Dive into my latest episode to understand how to decode acceptances, denials, and deferrals, and learn why these decisions don’t define your journey. Join me as we navigate the highs and lows of early applications, helping you support your child through this pivotal moment!


Sheila Akbar:

We want to remember, this is a system by which colleges meet their institutional priorities. These are like business goals for a college where they want to grow their tuition, or increase their foothold in a certain area of the country, you know, maybe get more students into a certain program that they’ve just launched. Okay, fam, early decision and early action notifications are coming out this week, may already be out for some of your schools or are coming in the next few days. So I wanted to drop in episode here on how do you handle this? And what does it all mean? And even if you did get in, what are your next steps? And more important than I think that sort of like tactical, right, how do we take this feedback and integrate it into whatever our next steps are, I want to spend some time talking about the emotional impact and roller coaster that you’re sure to experience as these notifications start to come out. And it’s a good preview of what’s going to happen in March when the regular decision notifications come out, as well. So you can back up to your previous episode on what’s early decision, what’s early action, and what are the benefits, etc, etc. But if your senior has applied early decision, early action, single choice, early action, any of the variants of these early application programs, most of those notifications are going to come out in early mid December. Now, a number of early action programs have shifted their notification date to January, even February, after the regular decision deadline. And that throws a wrench in things. But just so you know, you can usually look on the college’s admissions deadline website, and they’ll tell you what the notification date is. If it’s not there, you can look them up on their Twitter’s slash x account or their Instagram account. And you might see a date there. So you know what to expect. Now, just in terms of getting ready for the day, if it hasn’t happened for you yet, I would say have a conversation with your kid about when they are going to look at the notification. Usually, an email will pop up that says there’s a message waiting for you in our applicant portal, you have to go log in somewhere else and see what the actual answer is. Or you just log in at the time, you know that the notification decisions are about to come out. You know, there’s been a movement over the last couple of years for colleges to not do this in the middle of the school day, or not even do it during the school week, maybe do it on a Friday after school is out so that it’s not as challenging a moment, it’s not a distraction from school, if they didn’t get in, they’re not you know, in tears at school, or let’s say they do get in which is awesome. But maybe many of their peers didn’t. And so then there’s just like this kind of awkwardness that they want to avoid. Now, not every college has done that. What we’ve seen in years past is they’ll come out on a Friday or maybe a Thursday evening. Because sometimes when they get that decision, they the kids want to go talk to their college counselor about well, what do I do? How do I do this? Right? And if they have to wait till Monday, you know, that can be really hard for some kids, though, there is virtue and learning how to be patient with those things, of course. So yeah, emotionally, it’s a lot. Have your students think about when they are going to look at that, around whom they want to look at that. And what do they feel comfortable sharing with their friends? What do they feel comfortable with their friends sharing with them is, you know, of course, we can’t protect our children from every kind of disappointment. But if we go in with clear boundaries, and clear expectations, hopefully we have an easier time managing our emotions around whatever the answer may be from the college. I think it’s also really important throughout this process to plant those seeds that just because you don’t get into a college, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be a failure. It doesn’t mean people don’t believe in you. It doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. And that is you know, I need to say that because that is really where kids go with these answers and sometimes where parents go. And obviously that’s not the truth at all. We want to remember this is a system by which colleges meet their institutional priorities. These are like business goals. For a college where they want to grow their tuition, or increase their foothold in a certain area of the country, you know, maybe get more students into a certain program that they’ve just launched. And they want to continue to develop, they have all kinds of different priorities. They do change from year to year, there are usually, you know, five year plans that have more long term priorities. But at the end of the day, they are selecting for two things. One, can the student handle the rigor of that college? Will they be successful, they’re in terms of their grades and things like that. And, and this is the real big filter, do they fulfill some priority for the college. And that one’s a hard pill to swallow, because we don’t know what those priorities are. But if you remind your student and remind yourself that there are some priorities we’re just not aware of. And just because you didn’t get in doesn’t mean you’re not, quote unquote, good enough or smart enough, or you won’t be a success somewhere. It just means that this college didn’t think you were a fit for whatever their priorities happen to be. And yes, it will still be difficult. But I do encourage you to put that perspective forward. And then, you know, we’ll talk about what the different decisions might be in just a moment. But I do think just on the emotional side of things, it’s important to know how you, as a parent, plan to give your child the space and support that they may need. If they get a decision. That is not what they were hoping for. How are you going to help them stay focused, help them put this decision in perspective, and just help them know that they matter, and that you care about them, that you love them, that everything will work out? In the end? How are you going to do that. And in order for you to do that, you also have to believe those things. So hopefully, it’s one of the reasons you’re tuning into this episode to understand all of this and get that perspective on what did these decisions mean. But I do think it’s important for parents to set the tone, we’ve only scratched the surface of how to emotionally support your child through this, but you know, your children best. And remember that there are other people in their circle, who can also support them, whether that’s teachers, mentors, coaches, family, friends, and their college counselor at school. But also, we need to give them the space to process these feelings and really, you know, sit with them and manage them in a healthy way. But you may also need to be looking towards those regular decision deadlines, which depending on when you get your notification are probably only two, two and a half weeks away. So we can’t sit in our negative feelings for too long before we need to take some action. Right? So have a plan. Now on to what are the decisions? And what do they mean, with any early application, there are three potential decisions, you have an acceptance, you have a denial, you have a deferral. So acceptance, pretty straightforward, you got in, that’s fantastic. If this was an early decision school, you have committed to going there, they usually give you a short period of time to kind of confirm, and you’ll need to also withdraw your applications to other schools, right. And remember that you signed an agreement, when you submitted your early decision application, your counselor signed it, your parents signed it, the student signed it. And you really want to abide by those terms, because not only might it burn bridges for you, you know, it’s unethical. And also it might burn bridges for your school. To summarize, if it’s early decision, and you get an acceptance, accept your spot, communicate with the school as they require you to and withdraw your other applications. If it’s early action, you don’t necessarily have to take action. You can wait until you hear from any regular decision schools you want to apply to. You don’t have to make a decision until May 1. But if you know that you definitely want to go to this early action school, put yourself out of your misery and go ahead, commit to them and withdraw your other applications or don’t file any other applications and you’re done. Congratulations. It’s it’s awesome. Now, if you get a deny from a school, it’s a bummer. For sure kids feel rejected they feel as I was saying earlier, not Good enough. But here, you want to take this information as some kind of feedback. Because if you were denied early, you will have to file regular decision applications. So what can we learn from that denial? And as a parent, you know, don’t rush into this stage, unless your child is ready to go there, give them a couple of days. But what can we learn from that denial? Does it mean we were aiming for too selective of a university where your grades, test scores, you know, leadership, extracurriculars, all of that stuff doesn’t really match up to the typical freshman admitted, if there’s something that you feel you want to emphasize more or framed differently, you know, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at those essays. And think about what you might want to do a little bit differently. And you may also want to look at which schools you’re really putting your energy into, for example, if you got a denial from a school that you thought was in your target range, meaning, you know, your profile is right on the mark, with the typical student that they kind of except, well, maybe there’s something to think about, they’re in adding more target schools to your list or not stretching so much for the reach schools, right. So it’s a little bit of feedback there. It’s important that you put forward really strong applications to your regular decision schools, and make sure those are the right schools for you. Now, the deferral is the one that can be the most confusing, both emotionally and sort of tactically, like, what are you supposed to do with this? So deferral means they looked at your application, they didn’t see anything in it that they didn’t like, so they don’t feel like they want to deny you. But at the same time, they’re not sure they can admit you, they want to see what the regular decision applicant pool looks like, before they give you an answer. And now this is where those institutional priorities come in. Basically, if you’ve been deferred, in most of the cases, it means they think you could handle their school, and that you might actually be a good fit for their school. But they are waiting to see if an application comes in, that fits their priorities even better than yours does. So in that way, it’s kind of like not a judgment on you, I do encourage my students to see this as a positive sign, right, at least we weren’t rejected. So with a deferral, what happens then is your application is put into the regular decision pool. And they look at you all over again, when they’re reading all of the other applications. And they do allow you to submit some additional material. Now often this is just you know, a short letter, sometimes they give you a word count, like 300 words, they may ask for additional grades, if you’ve won any, you know, awards or had any significant accomplishments in the time between, you know, November 1, when you submitted your early application, and January 1, or fifth or whatever it is deadline, for regular decision, you can submit that as well. And I highly recommend that you do. And these these letters, these updates may take the form of kind of a short essay, oftentimes, it’s a very sort of factual, here’s what’s new. And here’s why I continue to love your school. Right, maybe you’ve learned something new about them, or you learn something new about yourself that makes the school even a better fit. Those are the kinds of things that can help an admissions officer evaluate whether you really are a fit for their school. The emotional challenge with the deferral is that you’re just in limbo, right? It doesn’t necessarily mean anything about, you need to change your essays or change your school list. But, you know, it’s always wise to consider that. And then sometimes it’s not about the student at all. It’s about a relationship with the students school that they want to maintain, or, you know, a relationship with an alum or something like that, and they think of it as like a soft letdown. Now, to kind of close this out, I just want you to remember that it all feels very high stakes, and it’s all extremely emotionally charged. And the better prepared you as a parent or a caretaker are to support your student through what these decisions mean and what needs to happen next, but also give them the space to process their emotions will determine a lot about how this goes. And to those listening, for hearing. Maybe you’re afraid of what kind of D day this is going to be for your child who maybe is Uh, you know, junior or sophomore or something like that. This is why it’s important to start cracking on some of those regular decision applications before you hear back from your early applications, because it’s hard, it’s really hard to start talking about why you love this other school when you’ve just gotten a you know, deny from a school that you really put a lot of hope into and a lot of work into. And we have a compressed timeline. And it can be very hard to process those emotions and put your best riding forward. And also, you know, we’re coming into winter break, where students don’t need a break, they need a rest, and really don’t want them to be scrambling over winter break to get all of these applications in. So please plan ahead, and if you need help with that, you know where to find me. Thanks, everybody. We’ll see you next time.

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