The college admissions process is definitely not for the faint of heart. Becoming invested in certain schools and putting yourself out there for potential rejection evokes anxiety, dread, and no small amount of self-doubt.
If you are informed enough to be reading this article, you or your teen are almost certainly assured of admission to some two-year or four-year program. Yet while that fact may provide some small comfort, your family probably has its collective eyes on a specific prize. This is where the distinction between uncertainty and risk comes into play.
Uncertainty indicates a lack of assured outcomes, a range of possibilities encompassing both success and failure. Risk, on the other hand, describes exposure to a chance of injury or loss. Seth Godin deftly explains the difference between uncertainty and risk in college admissions as follows:
“…the typical high school student applying to a range of colleges has very little risk of getting in nowhere. Apply to enough schools that match what you have to offer, and the odds are high indeed you’ll get in somewhere. Low risk but a very high uncertainty about which college or colleges will say yes.
That’s not risky. That’s uncertain. It takes fortitude to live with a future that’s not clearly imagined, but it’s no reason not to apply.”
This is to say that the college admissions process is fraught with uncertainty but should involve very little risk if you apply to a couple of safety schools. Your challenge, which is addressed in Part 2, is to add certainty where your dream schools are concerned.