Taking Ownership of Your College Admissions Process

I often get a lot of emails around this time of the year from panicked high school seniors about classes they didn’t pass in first semester and what they should do. Per usual, I advise them to go out of their way to make up for the classes they didn’t pass and they often scoff at the idea. They’d argue with me about why it’s not a big deal, why they shouldn’t be required to do that, and how they have fulfilled the A-G requirements and therefore the classes they didn’t pass shouldn’t matter. I’m exasperated whenever students come up with these excuses. I try to explain that the UCs are looking for students who will go out of their way for their education and to achieve their learning goals. But, I have come to realize that, if these students had the mentality of always going out of their way to do their best, they wouldn’t have gotten themselves into this mess (extenuating circumstances notwithstanding).

Regardless of where you are in the college admissions process, I want to give you this piece of advice: Good things come to those who work hard. If you have the mindset of always doing your best, you will always get the best of whatever life has to offer or pretty close to it (or, at the minimum, you will have the satisfaction that you did your best). If you’re always looking to expend minimal effort, don’t expect disproportionate return on your investment.

At the end of the day, I cannot tell the future. Maybe some of these students will get to keep their admission offers. What I’m trying to make clear to you is that you have to take responsibility for your actions and decisions. I think one of the reasons students argue with me is because they think getting my approval will make everything ok. What I try to remind them of is that everyone has to live with the consequences of his or her actions. My approval is worth exactly nothing (I don’t make the admission decisions nor do I cancel admission offers, the UCs do, and what the UCs giveth, the UCs can taketh away).

Remember that the choices you make in high school (academic or otherwise) will likely have long-term impact on your college plans. Best efforts today will translate to best possible results tomorrow, and mediocre efforts today will translate to mediocre results tomorrow!

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