College Admission is about Celebration!

On three giant Post- It notes on the wall outside my office we have the words: CELEBRATE YOUR WINS. 

This is our tangible reminder to pause, reflect, and acknowledge when you accomplish a goal or see success. 

College admission is often described as a “cycle,” and for those who do this work, it is an endless one. You work to recruit a class, review applications, make decisions, convince students to choose your school, and it can easily spin and blur together.   

At Georgia Tech, we try to find logical points to stop and celebrate; to consider what it has taken to achieve goals; and to high five or fist bump in recognition of our collective wins. 

If you are a senior in high school (or an adult supporting one), I’m encouraging you to do the same. As I’ve said many times, the college admission search, application, and selection is not a “process” as journalists or others would have you believe. Instead, it is an experience. It should be a time of exploration, growth, challenge, and yes… CELEBRATION!   

Celebrate Submission

After each application you submit, I hope you will take a deep breath, a big drink of water, allow yourself to smile, and appreciate what you have accomplished.  

Think about everything you included on that application- four years of classes and grades, testing, extensive involvement outside the classroom, and your essays and supplemental responses. Man- that is a lot! Now is not the time to question if you’ve done enough or worry about how it will be received on the other side. Instead, THIS is a time to CELEBRATE!  

What makes you really smile? What brings you joy? Whatever that is, do that now. A meal, a movie, a new jacket, a run, or a hike? You do you! But DO NOT just move on. Do not just go back to class or head to the next practice without intentionally celebrating.   

Parents and supporting adults always ask, “What should be our role in college admission?” or “How can I best support my student?”  This is it, people. Now is not the time to secretly wish their essay had been on a different topic or that they hadn’t applied to your alma mater’s biggest rival. Now is the time for full support and celebration. You know them best, so make it happen.  

Celebrate Submission!  

Celebrate Admission 

I hear too many students get into a college and say, “Yea. But it is just the University of X.” C’mon, man. You applied there. You worked hard to assemble an application– and you paid to send it in. Now you’ve been offered a spot. AMAZING!

That school wants you. That community could be a great home for you. This is an invitation and an opportunity. Trust me- there are thousands of kids who wish they could go there.  

And look- the entire goal here is to have choices and options. YOU just got another one. That is awesome. I’m proud of you and you should be proud of yourself too. Don’t let a school’s ranking or admit rate diminish your excitement. When you get into any college, whether it was your “first choice” or not, you celebrate. Honestly, I can’t believe I even have to write this. Who doesn’t want a chance to get excited about something?!  

Celebrate Admission! 

Celebrate Foundation (best I could come up with, but here’s a list of “ion” words, if you find something better). 

Every time you hit submit and send in an app or get into a college, be reminded that you did not get there alone. Somebody drove you to school and practice. Somebody taught and coached you. Somebody paid for stuff and made sacrifices along the way on your behalf. You are great, YES. But you have been made great by a collective effort and consistent investment. The support that enabled your admission needs to be recognized and valued. 

Take time to look around and say thank you. Perhaps that is a teacher, a coach, a parent, a relative, a boss… or all of the above. This is not text time, friends. I’m going to challenge you to step it up here. Think about writing an actual note or making a phone call to these people. Can you imagine the surprise of your 4th grade teacher when you show up and tell her that you’ve realized she’s a big reason for the opportunities you have now? 

Celebrate Foundation!  

College admission is not something you have to do. You get to do this! CELEBRATE. YOUR. WINS!!  

Author: Rick Clark

Rick Clark is the Executive Director of Strategic Student Access at Georgia Tech. He has served on a number of national advisory and governing boards at the state, regional, and national level. Rick travels annually to U.S. embassies through the Department of State to discuss the admission process and landscape of higher education. He is the co-author of the book The Truth about College Admission: A Family Guide to Getting In and Staying Together, and a companion workbook published under the same title. A native of Atlanta, he earned a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a M.Ed. from Georgia State University. Prior to coming to Tech, Rick was on the admissions staff at Georgia State, The McCallie School and Wake Forest University. @clark2college