Many of you will be receiving some good news, and some disappointing news with respect to your college and university admissions results. You may also be learning of where your classmates, friends, and relatives have received their school decisions. It is naturally a time of anxiety, stress, and often envy, jealousy. Too often, you’ll hear “So-and-so was admitted to [name of school] and had lower grades, scores, less activities than me and I was rejected or waitlisted. This is so unfair.” Or “Why was my son rejected from XYZ University while [name of kid] was admitted?”

Let’s take a step back and consider the following:

Respect the Competition.

For many heavily selective, even rejective, institutions – remember that applicant pools are national, even international in scope, and there are many, many outstanding applicants with incredible profiles. Universities aren’t able to take all of these very qualified candidates, and often very popular programs are capacity-constrained (e.g. nursing programs can be about 50-60 students per year; CMU can only enroll about 100 or so new CS students annually). They also will want some geographical balance, in many cases, too. Please keep this in mind.

You Aren’t Reading Their Files.

Colleges and universities have many institutional priorities. They want to build a class that is varied in background, interests, and life trajectories, and we are not privy to their decisions. We don’t know about a particular student’s details, their personal statement, any of their personal challenges, how a teacher recommends them, and it is neither useful nor productive to speculate how these institutions may evaluate a particular candidate.

Be Sympathetic.

On the other hand, your friends may be disappointed with their admissions results, or feeling as if they “lost out” compared with you or your peers. So if your friends are feeling a bit down, have a kind word for them, and remind them that it can all work out for them in the end. For these reasons, it is a good idea to be low-key, even avoid, about sharing your admissions results on social media. And this advice can apply to parents sharing information about one’s child.

Some schools have discouraged or discontinued “sweatshirt day” when graduating seniors wear apparel with the name of their college-to-be. School newspapers or publications have also stopped listing the names of their graduates with their future institutions as well. If your school hasn’t done so, you can also advocate doing the same.

Think Long Term.

Consider enrollment in higher education as a beginning point, and not as a prize to be won. You have your whole life ahead of you, and lots of time to find your path to success and fulfillment ON YOUR OWN TERMS. There are plenty of successful persons, celebrated persons who did not attend superselective institutions, or even took a circuitous route to find their path, yet made their mark on society and their fields. What matters most is what you do at the school you attend, and what you do afterwards. You’ll be fine!