What that College Admissions Means

I am not sure why universities picked April 1st as the day to release their final decisions on college admissions, a possible ode to April Fool’s Day, but for whatever reason across the nation high school seniors heard if they received admissions to their top schools.

Image credit by Andrew Neel, Unsplash.com
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails

As I was talking to my niece about her final admissions and final decisions, I wanted to tell her a few key things to put these admission decisions into perspective.

1.       Your path is highly personal.

While there may be pressure from parents, friends, teachers, and even media, where you go to higher education depends on where you can become who you wish to be. Some students need a small intimate environment to be successful, some want the full-on collegiate experience, and others will make their decisions on financial aspects. In the end, the student’s journey is their alone. No one else can do the work for them, so being in a place that meets the student’s needs and no one else’s is highly important.

2.       You can become whoever, wherever you go.

We often feel that a “name” of a college defines who we are and where we go in life. While it may be true that certain schools breed unique social and economical connections, for the 99.5% of us who attend traditional universities or colleges, we will be provided with a great education and many fantastic opportunities to grow academically and as people. I am a true believer in the Taoist view of “There are many paths to one summit”. College will be what you make of it anywhere you go, it’s what you do once you get there that makes all the difference.

3.       Life is not over if you do not go to your 1st or 2nd choice.

Maybe you did not get your first, second, or even third choice of schools. For many students this creates a self doubt that what you did all in high school was not worth it. I worked with a student last year who should have gotten into every school he applied, perfect GPA and ACT score and high student involvement. He ended up at his fourth choice that had provided him with substantial scholarships, but he felt was a bit inferior to the others. I saw him after a year, and he LOVES his school and stated it was his perfect “fit”. I am a Happenstance theorist- meaning, that sometimes doors have to close so others can open. Call it divine intervention, fate, destiny, Karma, or whatever, but things have a way of working out in life. Focusing on the positives and doing #2 in this list, it will all work out.

4.       The journey is not over.

This week I did something I NEVER thought I could do…. I became Dr. Amanda Sterk. That is the first time writing that phrase, and it means to me all the hours of studying, hard work, persistence, and dedication I had to get there. What it taught me is that life is one step at a time; one foot in front of the other. Your life is not “fixed” at any age, especially not at 17+ years. Granted as we get older, certain responsibilities seem to slow us down (kids, spouses, jobs), but that is only because we let those things hold us back. Every day we wake up with the opportunity to do something different. One of my favorite quotes that has always inspired me is; “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails” (Mark Twain quote) .

Your journey has just begun.