A Post for the Denied Applicant (2012)

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Now that the dust has settled after the release of Regular Decision notifications this past Thursday, I know that many of our applicants did not receive the news they were hoping for. Every year I hesitate whether I should post a specific entry for denied applicants. I assume that after a student receives a deny decision from Johns Hopkins that they would not choose to return to the blog. I also feel that my comments will not be welcomed by a student after receiving negative news from the University. Lastly, I fear that my words will fail me in expressing the compassion I and my colleagues feel for the students were are unable to admit.

However, I have been surprised to find out over the last few years that many who read my post for denied applicants actually appreciate it. Every year that I have been part of the Admissions Committee at Johns Hopkins University, rendering final decisions has become more difficult. You all know from the media this week that acceptance rates at the most selective colleges are dropping significantly as applicants pools continue to grow rapidly. And this is true at Hopkins this year too as we witnessed the largest applicant pool in our history (20,496) and our lowest acceptance rate (17.7%) ever. No matter what you may think at this time, admissions counselors loathe the process of denying applicants. We all universally agree this is the hardest part of our jobs.

Every year my colleagues and I are faced with the daunting task of selecting very few students from a truly outstanding pool of applicants. As I have written many times before, each applicant is considered thoroughly and holistically by a team of highly committed professionals. Unfortunately, the number of applicants far exceeds the number of positions we can offer (our freshman class will be just 1275 students this year). Selecting students is never an easy process and I know my colleagues join me in saying that we sincerely understand your frustration and anger and respect your disappointment when hearing the unfavorable news.

Many deal with being denied by trying to determine where they fell short. They ask questions about what were they missing or what they did wrong. As I complete my 13th year in college admissions, I can attest to the fact that there is never just one reason that leads to our decisions. When reviewing a student’s application, we take into consideration a vast array of factors including academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, leadership, commitment to community, and promise of future contribution.

It is said often, and it is quite true, that the college admission review process is about fit. Our applicant pool is filled with extremely qualified applicants, but unfortunately being qualified is not the only consideration. Our freshman class is quite small and we are unable to admit everyone that is capable of doing the work. Please do not receive this news as a judgment of your value and your ability, but rather understand the competitive nature of applying to a highly selective institution like Johns Hopkins.

Others will deal with being denied by expressing anger, and levying accusations based on tons of speculation. The days after the release of decision are some of the hardest for me as I tend to take the brunt of many of the attacks, being that my online “Admissions_Daniel” presence is an easy and accessible target. I understand where these accusations of unfairness stem from, but I am also aware of how much time, effort, and passion my colleagues put in the admissions selection process. I could defend vigorously and respond back aggressively at every negative comment but there is no value in that. Venting is pretty much human nature when receiving unfavorable news, and though some will take it too far, I choose to remain above the fray and allow people to deal with the news as they deem appropriate.

I was rejected from my first and second choice schools when I applied to college. I was angry, I vented, and I felt that all my hard work was wasted. But then with the support of my friends and family, I realized I had wonderful other options to choose from. And once I made my selection from the schools that admitted me I forgot all about my “love” for the other schools. I committed myself completely to my new college and never looked back. Even today, after realizing I made the wrong choice in the college I attended (no I am not a JHU alum), I do not look back and wonder “what if.” I made the best of every day of my collegiate experience and still cherish all the memories, even though I did not attend my first choice school.

My advice for now is to forget about Johns Hopkins and any other schools that may not have admitted you for your undergraduate years. Know that there is a college that is going to be uniquely enriched by your presence on their campus and that you will have an amazing undergraduate experience. If there is one thing I have learned over the years, the right college for you is the one that you select to attend and the one you commit yourself to fully.

It is with the deepest sincerity that I wish you the best in your future endeavors.

Answers to a few frequently asked questions:

Can I appeal my decision?
Johns Hopkins University does not accept appeals of our decisions nor will we re-evaluate applications with new information. Our decisions are final and are based on the information provided to the Admissions Committee at the time of decision.

Can I find out why I was denied?
While we as a committee do not address specific components of a student’s admission decision, we always note that each year we have an outstanding pool of applicants and there are more qualified applicants than we can admit. It is our practice though not to discuss the factors that go into our final decisions nor provide students with a detailed analysis of their specific application evaluation.

Can I apply again and when?
Yes you may apply again, but must wait for our next admissions cycle which will be the fall 2013 term. We would strongly encourage you to enroll at another university, and if after two semesters you still feel that Hopkins is the right place for you, you may apply for transfer admission. Transfer admissions information can be found here: http://apply.jhu.edu/faqs/transfer.html.


3 thoughts on “A Post for the Denied Applicant (2012)

  1. Daniel-
    Johns Hopkins is so lucky to have an admissions officer like you. As the parent of three current college students (two at Hopkins) who also faced rejection from several schools to which they applied, I can say that I have never seen such a heartfelt, honest attempt to reach out to a rejected student, and it is something I have noticed you do every year. This caring and feeling for all students, Hopkins or otherwise is something that I find to be so special and makes me proud to be a Johns Hopkins parent. While it would be so easy to just toss aside those student with whom you will never engage, the fact that you continue to reach out to them demonstrates why an admissions officer with compassion is as essential to the success of a university as is its student body. Thank you for your truthful assessment of the admissions process and for your effort to explain to those who will not have the Johns Hopkins experience next year. May their future be brightened by your kindness.

  2. @Jimmy: Thanks for your comment. This is the hardest blog entry I write every year and I do hope it helps some get over the sadness of not being admitted.

  3. As the 2014 decisions are coming up next week – I do hope and pray my son is admitted to JH – he loved the campus, curriculum, etc.. That being said, it will NOT be the end of the world for him if he is denied. He loves Hopkins but has alot of other great schools to choose from in the Northeast where he has already been admitted. Though we are VERY impressed with Hopkins…YOU know what you are looking for and HE may not be it, so that is understood..

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