On second thought…or…Weighing the Pros and Cons of Appealing an Admissions Decision

By: Judi Robinovitz | Last Updated: March 8, 2013

Bummer. The infamous envelope bore bad news. So what’s a person to do? Why? How? Rather the calling an admissions office to plead, rant, or threaten (you’ll get nowhere), be rational and consider those elements that could make a difference.

An obvious possibility centers on the transcript. Perhaps grades have gone through the roof in a recent marking period. Or you received an academic honor not otherwise noted on your original application. Let the school know.

A less obvious possibility is that you simply messed up the application process and failed to submit all the application pieces on time. Bad dog! It’s pretty hard to talk your way out of that one. Lesson learned.

Here’s the well-known insider “scoop”: schools are touchy about the “yield” from the application acceptance pool. They want commitment from those they accept. If a university is the university for you, LET ‘EM KNOW again. Tell admissions that if they have a change of heart about you, you will 100% attend.

Be forewarned: appeals don’t typically succeed. You’ll be lucky to get reconsideration at all. The process requires attention to detail, speed, clarity, and organization.

Unless you have a solid reason to ask for reconsideration, don’t bother. If you do have cause, then martial your forces and get to it:

a. Have your guidance counselor write a letter reiterating the latest news you wish to add to your application, and write a letter yourself. If you’ve had an alumni interview, contact that person as well and ask for support.

b. We learned from a high school counselor of a student who appealed her unfavorable decision. She was actually granted an interview with the Dean of Admissions, presented herself as an honest, hard-working girl with learning challenges. Her energy and commitment spilled over during her interview. The dean corroborated her story with the guidance counselor, and took the chance with the applicant. As an undergraduate, she earned A’s and B’s, far better that her high school record of grades.

c. Improved test scores and/or improved grades are at the heart of the matter. Being elected president of the Key Club will probably not affect anything.

Keep in mind that schools don’t like appeals. They’ve got enough on their minds with those thousands to whom they have sent fat envelopes, and only a percentage of whom will actually attend. They pretty much have the pool of applicants that they want. And there are intangible issues at stake here for you, psychological ramifications for a student and family who are putting effort into a generally losing proposition, instead of concentrating efforts on relatively positive next steps and alternatives.

Denied acceptance from your dream school? Our advice is, wipe your eyes of the tears and move on to the next best option. With well over two thousand institutions to choose from, your success awaits you.

Topics: College Admission


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