Getting Rejected by Harvard

The Ivy League schools sent out their acceptance letters this week and most students who had dreamed of going to these universities and other highly selective schools are disappointed.
I’m going to share the experience of one highly accomplished girl during this admission season to illustrate why you need to cast a wide net when applying to colleges. The girl, I’ll call her Alexandra, earned a 2340 SAT out of 2400 and had a 3.97 GPA. She is an excellent writer and has demonstrated her leadership abilities. Any college would be lucky to have her.
Here are the verdicts from the 11 schools that Alexandra applied to:


  • Harvard University
  • Yale University
  • Stanford University
  • Tufts University

Wait list

  • Johns Hopkins


  • University of Michigan (Not to the program that she wanted.)  Poor financial aid.
  • Washington State University  Full tuition & fees.
  • University of Washington   Poor financial aid – all loans.
  • Willamette University:  Good financial aid
  • University of San Francisco Good financial aid
  • Boston University  $30K college grant.

The Lesson….

This list once again illustrates that applying to the most exclusive schools is a crap shoot. Even the most accomplished applicants are going to get rejected nearly all the time. Harvard’s acceptance rate this year is 6.2%.  Alexandra, however, enjoys academic and financial options because she cast a wider net.
Alexandra really wanted to go to Harvard, but she’ll get over it. And where ever she ends up, I suspect she will make the most of the experience.
Speaking of college acceptances, check out the post I wrote today for CBS MoneyWatch:

Princeton University Rejects All Its Applicants

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes a college blog for CBSMoneyWatch. Follow her on Twitter.
Harvard University image by j.gresham. CC 2.0.

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  1. I disagree, sometimes you don’t get accepted into a school because it wasn’t meant to be. Not that you shouldn’t try or you would always wonder “what if”. Whether you get rejected or accepted into a university it does not justify or prove how smart you are.

  2. My doughter got into Wharton this year and wait listed in stanford . But rejected
    by HYP .
    she has stats similar to “Alexandra”. On the top of her effort , she should have studied
    free in any college. But she has to pay 150K to get her degree. I also share your view
    “This list once again illustrates that applying to the most exclusive schools is a crap shoot”
    Dont even try. Then there is no disappointment