Flourishing mind concept

Why Weren’t You Accepted?

To answer the question of “Why Weren’t You Accepted” is not possible to do with any degree of certainty simply because first, admissions people are not permitted to reveal the reason(s), and second, there are so many parts in play that often there is not one obvious answer.

Students are rejected for reasons that have little to do with their ability, performance, or potential to assimilate within the community. It’s not often fair, but it happens fairly often. College admissions has become more and more competitive year over year as international student applicants have grown, and the “business” of admissions has reached unprecedented heights leading toward skewed admissions criteria and sometimes erratic results.

The fact is, college admissions is more of a game than anything else. So in the interest of playing along a bit here, let’s become the devil’s advocate and enter into the role of a fictitious admissions officer to try to answer, as practically as possible, the reasons one student would not be accepted over another.

For matters of clarity, we’ll identify “school” here as both boarding schools and colleges since institutional characteristics and admissions criteria are generally the same.


1.) We look for students who want to be at our school for reasons that make sense to them. In our estimation, you didn’t seem to have the level of interest or knowledge of our school to make us feel you would be happy here nor a valuable contributor to our community.

2.) We look for the strongest candidates within the parameters we are considering at the time, which can vary depending on our student body. Even though you were a top performer academically and offered what we look for in students in general, our requirements shift from year to year based on student turnover.

3.) We seek applicants with a strong academic history, a strong commitment to learning and community as well as students who will enhance our community through the fine arts, athletics, leadership and/or community service. In our opinion, you were somewhat limited in your overall ability beyond strong test scores and academic qualifications.

4.) Due to the increasing demand and affordability of a college education, we receive thousands more applicants than we have space to accommodate. Unfortunately, this means several qualified students must be turned away.

5.) There are plenty of people who attend “top” boarding schools and colleges who do not end up being successful. I believe this largely to be due to there not being an appropriate “fit” for both parties. In our view, while you showed strong potential, we believe that you and our school would not be the right fit for each other.


And sometimes it’s just as simple as that. What is “fit” and is it something we can predict? This is where the knowledge and experience of an education consultant would come into play, since their role demands them to possess extensive knowledge of the many schools and the constantly shifting admissions criteria.

So as a student, when you often hear your school counselor, teacher, or education consultant speak about schools that are the right “fit” or the best “match,” this is a measurable and vital component that helps in obtaining optimal admission results.