If you have a child who’s a high school senior in Georgia and considering continuing his or her academic career in Athens, you probably know what happened the Friday before Thanksgiving.
On this day, the University of Georgia notified early applicants that they’d either been accepted or will have to wait until the spring to find out.
If you had a UGA applicant in your family, this was a stressful day. If UGA was your first choice, then an early acceptance email means your college search is over. Or if UGA was your second choice – say you’re waiting to hear from Georgia Tech in January or another school somewhere – then getting into Georgia means you’ve lined up a solid Plan B.
But if your child didn’t gain early acceptance to Georgia, it means you’ve got to wait another five months. And in the meantime, you’ll need to arrange a backup plan.
I know this from experience. So far, three of my four children have applied to UGA. Some of them were accepted early and some were not.
I won’t name any names, but let’s just say that the one with the lowest test scores and lowest grades got accepted early, and the one with the highest test scores did not.
Which leads to my first piece of advice if you’re faced with this process:
1. Don’t try to figure it out.
If your kid got in, then give him or her a hug and pat yourself on the back. But if not, don’t look for conspiracy theories or make excuses.
I’m preaching to the choir. I’ve wondered whether my child forgot to send the required records or failed to take the essay seriously. I’ve also blamed the system, wondering whether there’s a quota at my child’s high school.
Going down this road will just drive you crazy. So don’t try to figure it out, especially if you have a younger child applying in the future. Just because one child did or didn’t get accepted doesn’t mean the same thing will happen to the next one.
2. Remember that it’s not about you.
It’s about your child. Getting rejected by the University of Georgia – or whatever school your child has applied to – will not be the end of the world for your child, just like getting accepted will not be the greatest thing to ever happen to them.
It shouldn’t be for you either.
Sure, your Facebook friends are going to post their kids’ acceptance letters, and good for them. But that shouldn’t get you down if your child’s letter said, “Better luck next time.” It should be about whether your child is fulfilling his or her potential, not how they compare to other people’s children.
3. Most of all, remember that there are many avenues to success.
It’s about where your children end up, not where they start.
Anybody who’s hired employees knows this. Some of my best hires were terrible students or had zero training. Some of my worst went to elite schools or had internships with the country’s biggest newspapers.
In the workforce, academic intelligence is just a part of the game. Social intelligence – the ability to build relationships and know what to do in any given situation – is often much more important. And you don’t have to go to Harvard – or UGA or Tech – to develop it.
There are many paths to success. Quite a few truly accomplished leaders in our community stayed right here in town and attended Columbus State University. Some went to Ivy League schools. Some are college dropouts.
I’ll say it again: It’s not where you start, it’s where you go. Keep that in mind, regardless of who accepts or rejects your own flesh and blood.