Deferred: The Nice No

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Poor, sweet Grace.  She got deferred by her early action school yesterday.  Results were posted electronically at 4pm, and students were able to log on to a secure website, and learn what fates the admissions gods had dispensed.  Rather than rush home, Grace decided in advance that this one decision from this one school would not rule her life, and she would be no slave to it, so she went to her after-school activities, and came home in due course.  Such courage.  Such strength.  My husband, in contrast, was calling me from work every 15 minutes to see if she was home, and what the news was, but not Grace.  She would not hurry.

I didn’t say a word when she got home.  The house was quiet, and I just stood at the stove, making enchiladas.  “Hi honey!  How was your day?”  Like every other day.  Electrons were buzzing all around the room, and the energy of the anticipation was dizzying.  But we pretended nothing was out of the ordinary.  “Fine, thanks.”  She got to the top of the stairs, and yelled back, “Thanks!”  I said, “what for?”  Grace:  “for not asking!”

Five minutes later she came back to the kitchen, tears streaming down her face, red from crying, and the pressure of trying hard not to cry.  It doesn’t matter which school it was, or who else got in.  She didn’t.  To her, it felt like rejection.  Soft rejection.  The “it’s not you, it’s me” kind, or “we can still be friends.”  The nice way of saying “I don’t want you.”  You can dress it up, but it still means “I don’t want you.”

We have spent 24 hours scouring online resources to learn her statistical chance of admission from the regular decision pool she has been tossed back into.  We haven’t found any reliable data, just anecdotes.  Some deferred early action kids do get in from the regular admissions process.  Many, many don’t.  The advice of self-accredited bloggers ranges from “move on to the other schools on your list” to “try to find out the soft spot of your application and submit an update in January.”

Practically, it means she will complete another ½ dozen applications before year’s end.  It’s not easy, she reminds me, and every one of them takes hours to complete.  So, in addition to having to study for exams, the results of which now really matter, she will spend six days, one per school, filling out more applications.

I try to keep things in perspective.  No one’s dead.  No one’s even sick.  We have so much to be thankful for.  But that doesn’t take the sting out of disappointment when it happens.  Perspective might make it hurt less, but it still feels bad.  I remind my husband, who feels her pain very personally, that learning to respond to adversity is a life skill.  Some tricks are just harder to learn.

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  1. College selection is a lot like dating: sometimes you lose a good one, sometimes they lose out on you. Either way, there are still plenty of fish in the pond.
    Yes, rejection hurts. We all learn that somehow. And some of them need more than an ice cream cone to heal it over. But you know (maybe better than she does) that by this time next year, it will be all but forgotten.

  2. So sympathetic to Grace’s (and your) situation. My son is a senior, and this whole college process is just very anxiety producing and painful. He was deferred to regular admission by three schools – – one of which we all thought was a safety. He’s in a couple of others, but neither is high on his list. We are still hopeful . . .but it is constantly nagging in the back of my mind that he might not get in a place he loves.

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