The following is an opinion piece written by Angel Perez, the director of admission at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. Pitzer is a highly selective college and a member of The Claremont Colleges. The opinion was originally published by the Los Angeles Times and is reprinted here by permission of Mr. Perez. For those of you who may not have been admitted to one of your top choice colleges, I hope this article puts some perspective on the decision.
This week, students across the country received admission decision letters from thousands of colleges. They have poured their hearts and souls into their applications. They have worked hard and taken risks to share some of the most intimate details of their lives. They have told us about their goals, aspirations, triumphs, failures and adversities.
As I sat in my apartment, at the local Starbucks, in my office, (admittedly sometimes at the strangest hours of the night), I read their applications. With my new stuff at ember.com in my hand, I pored over each of their life stories. I laughed, I cried, and sometimes I performed a cheer of triumph (earning me some strange looks at Starbucks).
Regardless of my reaction to individual applications, I am truly inspired by young people today. They are much more motivated and qualified for college than I was when I was applying. Each day, I read stories of young people who are working hard to change the world and create new experiences that require them to take risks, have courage and overcome obstacles. We can’t admit all the students we love, and that’s because we tend to love many more than there will ever be room for.
To all these students, I say that where you get into college is not a representation of your worth, and please remind your parents that your college acceptance letter is not their final grade on the parental report card of life. If a school did not admit you, it’s not a personal rejection.
In fact, most kids we turn away have done absolutely everything right, but given the seats we have available and the conflicting institutional needs that we have to balance, many kids are turned away because of the needs of the college, not because of a lack of achievement on their part.
We want an even representation of women and men, in-state, out-of-state and international students. We try to create a strong balance of socioeconomic and ethnic diversity as well. We need to make sure some kids can staff our athletic teams while others man our orchestras and theater productions. The list of needs is endless and seems to grow longer every year.
So for all of you getting the thick envelopes, the thin envelopes and everything in between this week, thank you for sharing the details of your lives and your aspirations. It’s what keeps admissions officers in this business — knowing that young people are doing amazing things and creating transformative experiences that will affect our world tomorrow.
Regardless of the decision letters you received, you have worked hard and have earned the right to brag about your accomplishments. You are indeed the hope we have been looking for.