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About this blog: We are writing this blog to give practical advice to students and parents, to reflect on issues affecting college admissions, and to provide a platform for a robust community discussion on post-secondary choices. We occasionally f...  (More)

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Early Decision and Buyer’s Remorse

Uploaded: Dec 15, 2015
(Written by John Raftrey)

Today is the day most Early Decision decisions are announced. While there will be a very large group of unhappy students who didn’t get into their dream school, there will be a smaller but equally forlorn group of students who did get into their dream school and are having buyer’s remorse.

Students admitted to University of Puget Sound are suddenly realizing that they should have gone to Willamette. Students admitted to Occidental are wondering if they could have gotten into Claremont McKenna and Claremont McKenna students now wish they had applied to Yale. Early Admits to Penn, now are upset they did not aim higher on the Ivy ladder.

My advice: “Knock it off!”

I am very sympathetic to students as they make big life changing decisions for the first time. But, and I’m talking to students here, just like all those pivotal learning moments you wrote about on your college applications, how you handle this experience will be a blueprint for your future.

Do not become a second guesser on your life. Students generally make the right Early Decision decision. But even if you did mess up (and most students are happy at their college), you can fix it. You can transfer. Or most importantly, you can make it work for you anyway.

Let me help you get through your remorse by being even more blunt. The Occidental student wouldn’t have gotten into Claremont McKenna. The Claremont McKenna student wouldn’t have gotten into Yale and the Penn student wouldn’t have gotten into Princeton. The Puget Sound student would have gotten into Willamette, but will end up being just as happy and fulfilled at Puget Sound. Why? Because college really is what you make it. It’s not just something college counselors say to keep their students happy.

Do not set yourself up for a future in which after a bad day at work, you beat yourself up for taking the early Yahoo! job offer instead of declining it and waiting to hear from Google. Do not start thinking about that special person you met freshman year who got away while you are getting dressed on the morning of your wedding to someone else. And try to break the Palo Alto curse and make sure you are not upset when you realize you still could have gotten your starter home even if you had bid $10,000 less.

So play “What If” for a few hours today to get it out of your system. Then start thinking about how excited you were when you sent off your Early Decision application. Just like any relationship that’s starting to go off the rails, it’s all about capturing that old magic feeling and committing to making it work.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Barbara, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Dec 15, 2015 at 5:15 pm

My son went through the exactly that reaction. He went to the early action school and it couldn't be better. Great advice

Posted by From Fifty Years Later, a resident of Fairmeadow,
on Dec 18, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Pick a good college that matches your life goals, as best you know them, and stick with it. Attending the namest of the name brands is way overrated. And, after a few days on the first job or in grad school, nobody will care where you went to college, or even ask.

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