With many colleges delivering their early admission decisions in these upcoming weeks, the College Counseling Office (CCO) hosted an All-School Meeting (ASM) for Seniors on December 1. According to the CCO, during the first two weeks of November, over 90 percent of the Senior class submitted applications for early admission to colleges.
A large part of the ASM focused on encouraging Seniors to think mindfully about reacting to their early admission decisions. Sean Logan, Dean of College Counseling, commented on the takeaways that he hopes Seniors draw from the meeting.
“Andover students are hardworking, they’re really smart kids, very aspirational. But they’re also looking at schools that have very low admit rates: 20 percent, 15 percent, 10 percent. We try to remind them of what holistic admission is, and then really think about ‘how you want to get your decision?’ ‘Who do you want to be with…?’ As a group and as a school, this is a place where the more supportive we can be with each other through this process, the easier it’s going to be for everyone,” said Logan.
Charlie Benjamin ’23 felt the ASM helped Seniors prepare for a variety of outcomes from the early admissions process. As many Seniors continue writing applications for the regular decision cycle, Benjamin found the presentation motivating.
“Right now, most people are figuring out whether they’re going to enjoy their Winter Break or not…. As a lot of us are getting to the point where we’re submitting a lot more applications, it’s easy to overlook things. That’s always a fear. [The ASM] was motivational, reassuring, and generally informative in terms of learning that 50 percent of the people get in, or just that we shouldn’t talk about [decision results],” said Benjamin.
Benjamin also shared his insight into the current culture around the college admissions process among Seniors. The tension around the college process, which has been steadily building since the end of Upper year, is now at its peak, according to Benjamin.
“It’s not only that you’re competing with the general Andover population, but it’s that you know the other kids that are applying to certain schools. There are people who have spreadsheets of who’s applying to where, their GPA if they can find it out there, their race, their SAT score, and a number of other factors. People are kind of obsessed with it, [which] adds to the tension,” said Benjamin.
Describing an unhealthy focus on test scores and admission to schools perceived as more selective and prestigious, Kurt Meyer ’23 observed that the current culture around the college admissions process was ultimately harmful to student’s mental health.
“I think it’s good that kids feel pressured to an extent to pursue academics, because I think that’s important. But also, I think that people tend to assume, [since] everybody at Andover is applying to really selective colleges, everyone’s like, ‘if you get into a really selective college, then you succeeded. If you don’t get into a selective college, you failed,’ which I think is not how it should be, because it’s more important to find a college that actually, is strong in whatever you want to pursue, even if it’s not selective,” said Meyer.
Confronted with record low admissions rates to many of students’ preferred schools, Logan encouraged students to take a bigger picture view of the college admissions process. Regardless of whether students got accepted to their first choice, he highlighted the potential for a number of other educational institutions to provide meaningful opportunities.
“Andover kids have typically earned what they’ve wanted… But when you get to the college process of highly selective schools, it’s another level. So then it’s also, ‘how can I deal with that disappointment?’ But also, there are so many good schools out there. Even if you don’t get your first choice, in my experience, I’ve been around so many kids who come back and say ‘I can’t believe I ever didn’t want to be at this school’. But it’s a hard lesson; so prepare yourself, be thoughtful, and be kind,” said Logan.