Draw the Line


The week before Thanksgiving, one of my students met up with me in my office and regaled me with stories from her recent campus visits. She had me both laughing and shaking my head in a span of ten minutes, and we discussed how to incorporate her observations into her still-unfinished supplemental short answer responses. For the first two colleges, she could hardly type fast enough, adding comments to her written drafts. Then she paused, looked me in the eye, and said, “Let me tell you about the third college…”

“I no longer want to apply to that college.” She went on to explain that the tour and information session were fine—and the school was lovely—but she just didn’t want to go there. She pointed out that the short answer prompts for that school had been in a document on her Google Drive since August, and while she had written quite a bit, she just couldn’t get excited about her answers. And her recent visit did nothing to inspire enthusiasm for finishing the application. With a quick pen stroke, I crossed it off her list and we moved on. It was that simple.

College lists are not set in stone. While—yes, ideally—I like to work with a solid list at the start of senior year, I understand that after thorough research (for those pesky supplemental prompts!), visits, presentations, and interviews, a college may no longer feel like a good fit. This information gathering may lead to a deeper dive into the other colleges on the list, or even a last-minute addition; adjustments are perfectly okay—after all, the only college on the list that will ultimately matter is the one still on the list May 1st.

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