An open letter to the applicants, regardless of decision.
Let me begin with the lucky, those who managed to tell a story that the Tufts University Admissions committee chose to weave into the extraordinary, growing tapestry that is this institution's history. You should bask in this, and I'm sure you are. A college admission is, above all, transcendent. It is an acknowledgement that everything you've done, the person you are, is worth educating and trusting with a message like "Pax et Lux". Whether you choose to be Jumbos or not, you are marked for greatness. Well done.
To the ambivalent, those who were good enough but not lucky enough, a waitlist is not a 'polite rejection'. Evaluate what you want to do, but know a waitlist from a school like this is a message of 'we really, really wanted you and are sorry we couldn't take you.' And yes, statistically it isn't probable you'll go here. But don't let yourself think it was because you were inadequate. It was a lack of space, not of talent or strength.
To the rest, I've been where you are. I won't bother telling you it's okay, because you know it is. I won't bother telling you not to let yourself feel pain, because I know you will. In the society we live in, the college admissions process is the first real rite of passage. It is the first rite we can fail. No one flunks kindergarten. There will be many violin concertos. A bad performance on the basketball court doesn't mean practice doesn't come again the next day. College admissions is the first time we can falter and have no choice but to proceed. You condensed yourselves into a pile of paper or a pdf document and let different groups of men and women judge how you fit into the puzzle they created.
And the first time you taste failure, real failure, a hard 'no', some of you will feel pain and concern. I certainly did. And that pain is natural, and I am not so far removed from it that I can tell you not to feel it. Your parents might tell you it's just bad luck, your friends might rail against the stupidity of the institution. That's natural. And it's natural that you feel like the admissions committees that turned you down judged your worth as a person.
They didn't. I promise you this. They did their jobs. You did yours. They felt just as much pain fighting for applicants that were voted out as those applicants did reading their decisions.
And I promise you it gets better. A year from now, you will be in college. You will have friends around you. You will be thinking of majors, of careers, of your future. The process will feel like it came a lifetime ago and it will be your turn to alternately congratulate or commiserate. And you will realize that this is, cliche as it sounds, only the beginning. And I know this because anyone who applied to Tufts, or any school into which their admission wasn't a sure thing, must at least have one thing: courage. The belief that they belonged among the applicants this, or any selective institution, chooses to imbue with their larger message.
So keep feeling elation, or uncertainty, or pain. I invite you to, because you should. You poured yourself, your dreams and aspirations, into those applications. And I invite you to feel the natural reactions with a caveat: you will end up somewhere, doing something, that you love. And your lives will have meaning.
Feel what you must, but stand tall. Be proud of yourself for, if nothing else, reaching out and showing the world who you are. Keep scaling heights. I ask that you keep following your kind hearts and your agile minds to whatever horizon, whatever sunset, resonates with the core of the people you are and will become.
Keep being brave.
With love and heartfelt respect,