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For seniors and families as decisions arrive...

"The data are in: we are not good at predicting what will make us happy. This is known and documented. So as we watch another class of kids lose their minds waiting to hear from colleges, let us remind each other that getting exactly what we want may or may not be exactly what we need."

Our value and worth are not determined by college admission outcomes. Colleges are businesses, residential communities, athletics organizers, employers, maintainers of traditions, social-mobility engines, reflections of society, and provide service to their local community, among many other things. Admission decisions are made with a set of constantly changing institutional directives. There is no college in the US that admits students purely on some shared notion of "merit" or who "deserves" to get in.

Your future is in your hands, and your education is not shaped entirely by the sweatshirt or bumper sticker you flash. What matters on a day-to-day basis is your engagement, your relationships with faculty mentors and peers, your sense of belonging, and your own thinking about what it all means and what you want to do with the things you learn.

This study tells us that if you can find these six experiences in your college, you'll be on the path to thrive.

  • Taking a course with a professor who makes learning exciting

  • Working with professors who care about students professionally

  • Finding a mentor who encourages students to follow personal goals

  • Working on a project across several semesters

  • Participating in an internship that applies classroom learning

  • Being active in extracurricular activities

And: it's hard to hear all of that sometimes at this time of year. This four-minute reminder may help.

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