Maintaining Friendships during the College Admissions Process

Elizabeth Hoyt

August 23, 2019

Maintaining Friendships during the College Admissions Process
It’s not a competition when a friend applies to the same school – it just means you have similar taste, which is likely why you're friends in the first place.
It can be difficult, believe it or not, to stay friends when you get into a college and your friend didn't. They feel rejected and you’re excited. How do you feel for them and stay excited for yourself at the same time? Or, perhaps, the inverse has occurred? Maybe you’ve been rejected or wait-listed at your dream school and your bestie has been let in – how can he or she be celebrating while you feel like your future is in jeopardy? The fact is, that everyone should be looking out for their own individual interests at this point and it’s not a personal attack when they are looking to attend the same school you are – it just means they have similar interests to your own, which is probably why you are friends in the first place.
Here are some tips to avoid putting yourself – and your buds – in awkward situations, which are all avoidable with a little planning and preparation during the college application and admissions processes.

Stay Upfront

If you want to keep things private, that’s your right. Just remain aware that you and your friends or classmates may be applying to the same schools. It’s still a good idea to explain to your friends that you want to keep things private for personal reasons, not because you’re trying to be competitive. That way, they will know not to keep asking you questions, which may make you uncomfortable. If you’d rather know if that’s happening, stay open and honest about the process, being prepared for the possibility that some may get accepted and you may not, keeping in mind that it’s not their fault if that happens. There’s no reason you shouldn't apply to the same schools as your friends, but don’t become sneaky or secretive about it – that breeds drama and will quickly go sour.
Talk with your close friends about your goals and their own, letting them know you’ll support them throughout the application process no matter what happens – and follow through, even if you apply to the same schools and they are accepted and you’re not. Remember, it’s not personal and, though it can become very emotional, keep in mind that it’s not the student that ultimately makes the decision. It’s natural to want to place blame but, if you want to blame someone, the truth is the blame really falls on your academics – even though that’s likely not what you’d like to hear.

Don’t Monopolize a School

You, as any other student, should feel free, to apply to any school you would like. At some schools, students get pretty intense, making deals about which students can apply to which colleges. This is completely unnecessary – not to mention unfair, especially since this doesn't guarantee any of the students who are able to apply a spot within the school! Schools look at students as individuals and do not compare students to one another. That means that other students that apply don’t impact your chances of getting in! By the way, it is a free country, so apply to whichever colleges you are interested in attending.

You’re Not an Admissions Officer

Speculation as to why your friend may have been accepted into a school and you weren't, for example, is just that – speculation. Schools take a variety of factors into account: academic standing, test scores, interests, extracurricular activities, scholastic awards, application essays, scholarships, achievements and honors, volunteer or community efforts, alumni status, in addition to many other factors. Unless you were there during the school’s discussions about you or your friend (we’re guessing you were not), you have no way of knowing for sure what their reasoning was and speculation will only cause unnecessary issues of drama between you and your friend. Avoid making comparisons because, the truth is, you have no real evidence other than of your envy, so try to tone it down before causing a rift in a great relationship. Keep in mind, your friend did not do anything wrong so there’s no reason to be upset with them and it’s sonot worth ruining a friendship over!

Know the Root of the Issue

If you don’t know the root of the issue, find out what it is. Are you fighting with a friend about applications? The root might be competition or lack of trust. Did you get in and she didn’t or the reverse? The root might be jealousy or resentment. Whether it’s you or your friend, think about the situation that’s actually happening. Emotions run at an all-time high during the college application process and why wouldn’t they? Students put themselves out there – with all of your hard work and efforts in high school, only to be accepted or rejected. Rejected? Who wouldn’t get emotional over being rejected? Then, as if to rub salt in the wound, the rejected student’s best friend gets accepted into that very school. Well, of course he or she is a little bit resentful! Even if the student wants to be happy for their friend, it has to be tough. And, for the friend that got accepted, it has to be difficult to handle because, he or she wants to be excited about going to college but now has to avoid the topic all together. What a mess! Try your best, whichever side of the situation you fall on, to handle it with respect. If you do handle the situation poorly, don’t give up. Reach out and talk to your friend, explaining that your friendship is more important to you than any school. Explain the roots of your frustrations and that you took it out on your friend, even though it was not his or her fault and that you’re truly sorry. Recognizing that you’ve made a mistake by letting competition or jealousy get in the way of your friendship and apologizing will go a very long way. The truth is that you still may be frustrated with the situation but you don’t have to take it out on your friend because it likely is not his or her fault, it’s probably just the application process, so there’s no need to make your friend miserable and ruin your friendship in the process. If you do that, you will eventually just have one less friend.

Keep Things in Perspective

No matter where you end up, chances are you will love it. It is extremely rare that a student reflects on their college days and regrets attending a particular school. So, being accepted or rejected by a particular school may seem like the end of the world right now, but it’s really not. You’re just going to have to trust us on that!

Support Your Friends

Just as you’d like for your friends to support you in your college pursuits, support them in theirs. It may become difficult at times in the process, especially if they are successful and you aren't, but try to focus on taking a supportive role, being sensitive to your friend’s needs. If you’re more successful than they are, it’s okay to be happy (and not feel guilty about it), but celebrate privately so that you are still sensitive to their feelings and be sure to let them know that, regardless of the situation, you’re their friend and there for them no matter what.

Look Out for Number One

Always remember, the college application process is for individual students to pursue their future plans – it’s not a collaborative effort. Don’t allow others to pressure you to apply to particular schools or not apply to schools you’d like to consider. This process should be about one student in particular: you and only you! Later in the process, if you’re accepted to a school and your friends are not, there’s no reason for you to feel guilty. Follow these tips to maintain good relationships during the application and admissions process and good luck with your college admissions – not that you need it, of course!

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