While many students this time of year are celebrating wonderful admission letters, scholarship awards, etc., and then there are also the other ones. You know the ones I mean. The students with the situations that make us sigh, cry, laugh, or triple facepalm. Some of them are exasperating, some are odd, and some are downright entertaining. You know who they are… if only they knew who they were! Conversations with them often include phrases like:

“I thought for sure I’d get in to First Choice University, so I didn’t apply anywhere else” (stated with denial letter in hand).

We all know this one. This is usually the student who never made a counseling appointment, attended a workshop, or looked at the university’s website, because “they” know better than we do. The student heard “them” say it was easy to get admitted. It turns out that “they” did their college research via memes on Instagram.

“I was going to apply to Local State U., but I heard the parking there is even worse than here.”

Listen, kid, it used to be that when you went to Local U., you had to walk six miles each way to class, in the snow, while carrying a 1969 Smith Corona Classic 12 “portable” typewriter that must have weighed, like, 180 pounds. Now you just ride your scooter wearing your Google Glasses, and you get anywhere on campus in three minutes. So stop complaining and figure out that parking and walking is just one of many little rites of passage. Oh yeah – and stay off my lawn!

“I’ve been admitted to Selective Academy, but I dropped my English Composition class; will that matter?” or “They don’t use spring grades for admission, so it’s OK if I get a couple Ds, right?”

Yes, it will matter, and no, letting your GPA drop is not OK, but at least you’re asking questions, and that’s a start.  I just wish there was something else I could do for you now. Maybe you’ll do better the next time you apply. (Sniff, sniff)

“I want to file an appeal” and the overly entitled corollary, “My parents already called their lawyer about my denial.”

Sure, there are times when an appeal is warranted, just like there are years when the Cubs win the World Series. I was talking to a university rep recently and mentioned the subject of students with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement who file appeals. I thought I might have to call 911 to get treatment for her fit of convulsive laughter, but I could tell the laughing was a defense mechanism. Thank goodness she wasn’t from the school that’s about to hear from Helicopter Mom’s lawyer.

“I think I’ll probably get in off the waitlist at Dream School Tech, so I declined Safety School University’s offer.”

There’s an old saying among pilots that there’s nothing more useless than the runway behind you. The same goes for admission offers that have been declined. If this student asked me while she was on approach to land, I’d have said she was off the glide slope and told her to go around again. Always check with air traffic control (your counselor) and never decline until you’ve safely landed elsewhere.

“I got into Ultra Elite University, but the housing is nicer at Party All the Time Polytechnic.”

Of course I want all of your emotional needs to be met, but are you going for the decor or for an education? Don’t like the residence halls? Put up a nice picture – maybe a nice motivational poster with a picture of someone climbing a mountain and a caption that reads “Achievement is 1% Decoration and 99% Ignore it and Study for Your O-Chem Test.”

“I was denied at Easy Entry State, so I’ve decided to stay in community college for another year then apply to Five Percent Admission Institute.”

I swear this really happens. Just the other day I met with a student who was denied by a non-impacted Cal State campus and now wants to stay an extra year in community college to try to get into one of the more competitive University of California campuses. And he wants to change majors to one of their most popular choices. With that kind of strategy, he may end up staying here longer than some of our faculty. At this rate he may earn a reserved parking space.

Fortunately, for every student who comes in with one of those mind-boggling stories, there are hundreds of others who achieve their goals, and sometimes reach heights they never imagined. Just this week I spoke with a regular student of mine who started at our college thinking that she would likely transfer to a non-impacted CSU, but instead she was admitted to UCLA — a school that wasn’t even on her radar a year ago. To her and all the others who are celebrating achievements and planning a future they weren’t sure they could reach, congratulations! And to those others… well, thanks for the entertainment.

By Robert Waldren