Rejecting Your Rejection

Rejecting a College Admissions Rejection

This was a letter published in the New York Times in 1981

Dear Admissions Committee:

Having reviewed the many rejection letters I have received in the last few weeks, it is with great regret that I must inform you I am unable to accept your rejection at this time.

This year, after applying to a great many colleges and universities, I received an especially fine crop of rejection letters. Unfortunately, the number of rejections that I can accept is limited.

Each of my rejections was reviewed carefully and on an individual basis. Many factors were taken into account – the size of the institution, student-faculty ratio, location, reputation, costs and social atmosphere.

I am certain that most colleges I applied to are more than qualified to reject me. I am also sure that some mistakes were made in turning away some of these rejections. I can only hope they were few in number.

I am aware of the keen disappointment my decision may bring. Throughout my deliberations, I have kept in mind the time and effort it may have taken for you to reach your decision to reject me.

Keep in mind that at times it was necessary for me to reject even those letters of rejection that would normally have met my traditionally high standards.

I appreciate your having enough interest in me to reject my application. Let me take the opportunity to wish you well in what I am sure will be a successful academic year.



Paul Devlin

Applicant at Large

The Common Application

The Common Application

What is the Common application, how do you use it, and what college accept it?

There are currently 600+ colleges (as of April 2016) that accept the common application. This can save you time and confusion and save you from having to answer many different applications questions for different schools.

The Common application is basically what it sounds like, a standard application that has standard questions on it that every college usually asks for anyway. In order to make the process a little easier, the Common Application was developed to give students the ability to submit one application to a number of schools, rather than filling out 10 or 15 applications with repetitive information.

For more information on the common application visit

The web site also has a list of what schools have online applications, mail applications, and early decision and early action programs. There are a few schools that only accept mailed applications still, so you need to be aware of this.

The Common Application also has a standard list of Essay questions. In the past, one of the most difficult tasks students had was handling and writing 8 or 10 different essays for schools they applied to. The common application solves this problem.

The Common Application essay questions for 2017-2018 are as follows

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. [No change]

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? [Revised]

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? [Revised]

4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. [No change]

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. [Revised]

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? [New]

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. [New]

NOTE: Schools that require a supplement application with the Common Application may in most instances have an additional short essay question of their own.

Will the Common Application give me the same chances of getting into a particular school?

Schools accepting the common application have sworn to give all applications that are submitted to them equal and unbiased consideration no matter what application method students who are seeking acceptance use when applying to a particular school. This means that students applying via common application, standard application, by mail, or online are all treaded the same.


Tuition in State vs. Out of State

Tuition Costs for In-State and Out-Of-State Residents

Compare the costs of college for in-state tution vs. out-of-state tuition

Public and private colleges can have vastly different athletic recruiting processes. A college coach working at a State University may have a smaller recruiting budget and may recruit more from their home State. Their recruiting budget will obviously play a role in how far they stretch their recruiting territory but the bigger factor is tuition prices at their college. A coach at a State school can stretch their athletic scholarship money further with recruits from their home state for the simple reason that tuition may be 1/3rd of what it is for an out of state student/player.

If you only have a few thousand dollars in athletic scholarship money to give to an out-of-state player, that player/family may be looking at a tuition bill of twenty to thirty thousand dollars still, whereas that same money might cover half the tuition bill for a high school athlete from that state. Other college coaches from States like California or Florida who coach at public universities rarely have to venture out of their state for recruiting because their state is so packed with talent. There is an incentive for them not to leave their state to recruit because they don’t have to, and there is an incentive for high school athletes to attend in-State schools because they are so much cheaper. Rarely will you find a talented baseball player from Florida who is being recruited by really good baseball programs in Florida say “you know, I might want to attend that private school in Massachusetts that costs $55,000 a year and play college baseball when it’s 39 degrees out.

Obviously the cost of attending college is a great concern to every family and as tuition to private schools approaches $70,000 per year, the need to find an affordable school is on minds of everyone.When you set out on your school search, you should not dismiss any school because of cost before you have had a chance to explore all opportunities.

State Schools have set tuition rates that are far lower for in-state residents, sometimes 75% lower than what out-of-state students must pay.  This is important information for you as you prepare your applications and something to consider when you apply to schools both in-state and out-of-state.

Here is a list of tuition figures for some State Schools to give you an idea of the vast difference in tuition rates.

NOTE: The figures below represent general estimates based on tuition only for 2016 for full-time students. (room and board has been excluded). Tuition only means the costs associated with attending classes. The info was gathered off of each schools website.

School In-State Out-of-State
Texas A&M $10,030 $29,668
UMass (Amherst) $14,596 $31,420
U. Vermont $15,096 $38,160
UCLA $12,816 $26,682
U. New Hampshire $17,624 $31,424
U. Georgia $11,622 $29,832
U. Minnesota (Twin Cities) $14,186 $25,500
Florida State $5,644 $18,788
U. North Carolina (Chapel Hill) $8,834 $33,916
U. Florida (Gainesville) $6,313 $28,591

Little note about U. Minnesota. If you live in North Dakota, South Dakota, Manitoba, or Wisconsin, your tuition bill will be the In-State rate.

In all cases, room and board will be the same for In-State and Out-of-State residents.


The Flutie Factor

Trends that change who college coaches recruit

There is nothing permanent except change! – Heraclitus

You need to be aware of trends or events that make schools more popular in a brief period of time (often 1 year). There are often instances where a schools appearance in a football bowl game or the NCAA basketball tournament gives the school unprecedented exposure and puts it on “the map” so to speak. This can cause a spike in applications the following year and what you thought was a safety school now might become a target school or reach school due to the increased number of applications you have to compete with. Florida St has seen a steady increase in application over the last 12 years and the increase is largely attributed to the increased success and exposure on a national level that their football team has brought them.

In 1984, Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie completed a miracle 60 yard touchdown pass with no time left on the clock in a nationally televised game to propel his team to victory over the national powerhouse Miami Hurricanes, providing Boston College with instant national exposure and recognition. The pass culminated a Heisman Trophy season from a 5’9” quarterback who was only recruited by one Division 1 College coming out of high school. The pass also sent a shockwave throughout the college admissions process which can still be felt today as underdog teams compete and win on the national stage.

The 25% increase in applications to Boston College the following year was deemed, “The Flutie Factor.” While the increase of applications based on athletic performances can be debated and is often rebuffed, it’s really up to you to analyze and determine what school will fit you best and you need to be aware of the exposure that different schools receive at different times. Many of the larger Division 1 schools spend millions of dollars on their football and basketball programs knowing full well the amount of exposure it provides them. The better these teams do, the more popular their school becomes, the more applications they hope to receive.

There are also instances where schools enjoy increased success by winning awards or ranking high on national lists of schools, whether it is by value or by strength of their academic programs. Perhaps they were ranked in the top 5 business schools when the year before they were 30th and now they need to deal with the increased exposure they are going to receive. There are other instances where trends in society influence applications. Schools with computer programs saw an increase in applications in the late 1990’s as more students became involved in the “Internet Age” and sought out services to prepare them for new careers in programming, web development, database management, & computer graphics.

In order to ensure that you gain acceptance to a number of schools, it’s important to apply to a wide range of schools that are reach, target, & safety schools. It is also important to understand the individual application process for each school by having an understanding of how many applications you will be competing with and what your odds are.


Instant Admissions

Instant Admissions

How different admissions processes can affect your athletic recruiting process

In 1991, I was faced with an extremely difficult decision. Should I attend the college I was enrolled in that didn’t have a baseball program, or should I try to find another opportunity quickly. My teammate’s mother was a professor at a local college and she set up an informal meeting with me with the director of admissions. His one real question was whether or not I was applying for financial aid. I answered no, and was offered acceptance to the school in the meeting. The key here was the school had spots to offer, and colleges will try to fill those spots up to the start of the class year. This is why it’s important to never burn any bridges with any college officials or college coaches. You may find yourself placing a last minute phone call in an attempt to find a place to play and a school to enroll in.

While not a path for high school athletes to pursue, an admissions policy that has been growing in the last several years is called “Instant Admissions.” The process is relatively simple. A prospective student meets with an admissions official at a particular school who reviews their standardized test scores (ACT, SAT) and transcript, then asks several questions regarding their academic record to date and their social activities. An on-site decision is then made whether to grant the student admission or not (usually within an hour).

In most cases students who are accepted through this process do not need to let the school know they wish to attend till late spring, leaving students with opportunities to pursue other schools if they like. One such school is Bard College in New York. Student send in their application about 7-14 days in advance then schedule a personal meeting with a school official for a one-on-one meeting. Bard is considered the founding father of instant admissions and has been admitting students this way since the 70’s. Other colleges participating in this process are Hood College in Maryland, Western Michigan University, University of Iowa, DePaul University in Chicago as well as many other colleges located in the state of Illinois as well as the Midwest.

Schools have also modified this procedure by hosting meetings at area high schools and conducting the interview process in the student’s own backyard. The majority of California’s state universities (there are 27 of them) now offer admission days on selected area high schools. Virginia Tech visits about 10 high schools located near their institution each year reviewing over 200 applications of students this way.


College Applications

College Applications

Tips for succeeding in the college application process

The college application process can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. Some students with strong academic records apply to only a few schools they have researched and targeted and find success that way. Others apply to 20 schools of varying levels and hope to gain acceptance to a few of them. There is no set path to success. What works for one student and family will not work for another and there are many factors that can contribute to your success or failure. For high school athletes wishing to continue their athletic careers at the college level, the application process can be more challenging because there are many colleges that you can gain acceptance to academically but which might not be the best athletic fit. You have the duel responsibility of not only trying to find colleges you can gain acceptance to, but colleges (and coaches) that want to recruit you and where you can succeed as an athlete. For many high school athletes, the application process is an opportunity to combine a strong academic record with their athletic skill to gain acceptance to a college they otherwise might not get into were they not attempting to play college athletics. This is something that all high school athletes should try to embrace and take advantage of…


Instant admissions has been around for some time now, but has remained a secret among college applicants. Instant Admissions


In 1984 Boston College quarterback Dough Flutie completed a miracle 60 touchdown pass with no time left. His pass had huge implications for future college applicants. GO


If you want to save money, check your home University first? Is-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition


The common application is used by over 600 colleges and allows you to fill out one application and send it to any school that accepts the common application. What is the Common Application


A funny story about a young man who decided to do something about all the rejection letters he was sending. GO

What’s the hardest college to gain acceptance to?

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts wins that prize. With an acceptance rate of about 6% and typical SAT scores between over 2,000, Harvard University is America’s hardest college to get into and they receive roughly 37,000 applications a year for about 2,000 spots. The good news is if you get accepted and your family income is less than $65,000, Harvard will pay your entire tuition bill. Yale, Princeton and Columbia round out the list of the top four.