We Regret to Inform You

By Sue Shellenbarger

We asked undergrads for advice on coping with the competitive college admission process. Here's what they said:

"Don’t fret about a single bad grade. So you want to get into Harvard but don’t have the required near-4.0 GPA? No problem. Keep doing your best in high school, get into a cheaper public university, choose a major you’re genuinely interested in, take classes you enjoy, get great grades then apply to dear Harvard as a transfer student and get accepted!"

- Annie, University of Utah

"Avoid being competitive with peers. If only I had known that I would end up where I was destined to be, I would have saved a lot of energy."

- Emily, University of California, Santa Barbara


"Don’t underestimate yourself. Even though you should always have a safety school, you may also get into schools that you never thought you could. There are many things that go into the application process along with academics. They also look at all of your extracurricular activities, your test scores, the challenging classes that you take, and any awards you have received."

- Brittany, West Virginia University

Mark Montgomery, PhD, president of Montgomery Educational Consulting, speaks with an undergrad who has thrived at his current college—even though it was his last choice—because had the right attitude as a freshman.