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A Spoonful of Sugar for Waiting College Applicants

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COLLEGE ADMISSIONS
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Perhaps just a spoonful of sugar will help the college admissions decisions go down.

Take a cue from the popular children's song in the movie, Mary Poppins; the "A Spoonful of Sugar" song could very well be a metaphor for life, reality and pain -- or the college admissions process!

March is high season for senior angst as they wait for, and learn how to make, college admissions decisions. The song is apropos to help high school seniors respond to the complex world of college decision notifications.

While the majority of students will gain admissions to several of their top choice colleges, many will be disappointed if they do not get their first choices, no matter how many outstanding additional options they have.

As adults, we need to help seniors realize that they will have great options for college, and beyond, even if they experience rejection.

In fact, more students this year will face rejections simply because of the numbers. Students this year applied to more colleges than ever, meaning more colleges will accept fewer students, and more will be rejected and wait-listed. Also keep in mind, only 10 to 20 percent of applicants get accepted to the most competitive colleges.

What's more, last year, according to a UCLA study, while more than 75% of college freshmen reported they were accepted to their first choice-college, less than 57% said they are attending that college. That's a 40-year low. Financing college was the largest factor the surveyed high school seniors cited for not attending their top choice college after being admitted.

For all of these reasons, it is important that we, as adults, remember to help students see that they can succeed and be happy at many colleges. As they wait for and learn which colleges have accepted them, we need to help them see the powerful of the options they do and will have.

We need to help seniors explore the resources at all colleges that have accepted them to see which programs will best meet their academic, social, and extracurricular needs and desires. They need to research which ones provide the strongest access to strong internships and support programs.

For students for whom finances are a consideration, we must also explain the parameters for deciding which college to attend and help them see the benefits of attending colleges that give them significant financial aid packages. Graduating from college without significant debt will help them to make powerful plans during and after college. They can thrive at colleges that provide significant aid.

Malcolm Gladwell writes in his new book David and Goliath that students would do better to attend colleges where they are in the top of their class and can excel, rather than attend colleges where they will flounder in the bottom or middle. That's an important reminder for us all.

The spoonful of sugar we give high school seniors right now can include taking them on trips to the colleges that accept them, helping them to develop plans for updating colleges that waitlist them and reminding them to submit additional applications for scholarships. Proactive months of March and April will lead to happier decisions made by May 1.

So if you notice your favorite senior seems stressed out, you might want to offer an ice cream or a trip to the movies. Ultimately, it is our job as adults to help high school seniors realize that "just a spoonful of sugar" can and will help the college admissions decisions go down in the most delightful way possible.