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Did This College Reject Me Because I'm Too Good?

Can A College Reject Me For Being Overqualified?

We've never covered this topic before and figured now would be the best time to do so.

Imagine this scenario with me...

For the last 3 years of High School you've been working hard to get the chance to be accepted into your dream schools. When the day comes to apply to these schools, you make a list of three types of schools: your reach schools (schools which are difficult to get into and you're not entirely sure you'd be able to get into them), your comfort level schools (schools which are "at your level" and you're fairly sure you can get into them) and your safety schools (schools which you are 100% sure you can get into). You write your applications, take your SATs, send your transcripts and wait...

2 months later, the results come in and you're crushed. The reach school you tried to get into rejected you and, even more confusingly, your safety school, the one you were 100% sure you'd be getting into rejected you as well. You're absolutely baffled, hurt, angry, and sad; completely crushed by the fact that nothing went the way it was supposed to...

Most students, when applying to a safety school expect with 100% certainty that they'll get into the school; and in 95% of cases, this is exactly what happens. However, there is one special case where a school might reject you because they believe that they're punching above their weight trying to get you to come to their school.

Story Time

Let's say we have two students: Vanessa, and Brian. Vanessa is an exceptional student all around. She has stellar grades, is involved in a number of extracurriculars, and had an exceptional college essay. Overall, her high school resume alone with her applications to the various schools she applied to were all around phenomenal and she shouldn't have any trouble getting into the schools she's interested in. On the flip-side, there's Brian. Brian has good grades and some extracurriculars, but his resume doesn't come close to Vanessa's in terms of exceptionality. Regardless, both of them apply to the same three schools: Harvard, Rowan and Drew University. After two months or so, they are notified of the results of their application.

A couple hours before the reported deadline, Vanessa goes on Instagram and notices some of her friends, including Brian, mentioning how they got into Rowan and Drew University. A sinking feeling comes in her chest as she realizes that she hasn't gotten a college email yet and it's almost time for the results to come out. The clock ticks by excruciatingly slowly as she counts down the minutes and seconds before she'll get her answer from her three schools. Seconds feel like years and finally, the time comes.

She quickly rushes over to the portal for Harvard and opens it up. It takes a few seconds to load before she reads: "Dear Vanessa, ...We regret to inform you..." She was slightly upset but understood that because it was a reach school, things like that happen sometimes.

She then rushed over to her Rowan portal and opened it up. It took a few seconds to locas well before she read: "Dear Vanessa, ...We regret to inform you..." This one hurt much more as she believed that she was definitely getting into this school and was floored as to how some of her friends got into it, while she didn't. No matter, there was one more school left and she'd be definitely getting into this one!

The last school she checks is Drew. Anxiously, she opens up the portal and checks the page. For what felt like a decade the site finally loaded. She closed her eyes, took a breath and clicked on the option which would reveal her admission status. She opened her eyes and read: "Dear Vanessa, ...We regret to inform you..." before bursting into tears.

Why did I get rejected?

Many stellar students students face this exact scenario and are often left wondering "why did I get rejected? Am I not good enough? Why did they get accepted and I didn't?"

While there are often a number of things at play which may result in a student getting rejected from a school they believed was a safety school, a key one is the fact that the student is too qualified for the school.


Every college has a measurement called their "yield." This value is the ratio between the number of students who accepted admission from a school and the number of students that particular school admitted in that year. Schools with higher yield scores are often rated as "better" since the students who do apply to the school, are very excited to go there. On the flip-side, schools with lower yield scores are rated as "worse" as more often than not, when a students applies to the school and gets accepted, they choose to pursue a better option elsewhere instead of committing to that particular school. Schools like Harvard, have a yield of about 80%, while other, not as exclusive and elite of universities, may have yield rates as low as 5% or 10%.

Because schools want to maximize their yield, they are going to be a little cautious about students who may be too attractive as candidates. If a student is an exceptional student and they are outside the given college's "league" the college might reject them because they believe that once accepted, the student will not attend the school because they'll have the option to choose a better school; so unless the student in their application essay seems overly enthused to be attending the school, the college will reject that student in favor of a student who might not be as academically gifted nor have the same credentials on their resume, but instead, will be much more likely to attend that school.

Conclusion and Summary

Going back to Vanessa and Brian, even though, at this early stage, Brian has gotten into more schools than Vanessa and has been accepted to schools Vanessa thought she couldn't get rejected from, this doesn't make Brian and more attractive prospect for school than Vanessa, nor does it mean that Vanessa is "missing something" or "not good enough" for these schools. More than likely, it's the opposite; where she is too overqualified that the schools reject her because they believe that she's not going to attend that school.

If you're a student who is in Vanessa's position, just remember that you're more than your grades, extracurriculars, resume, and school you get into. Furthermore, don't despair over missing a few colleges here and there, because the right college for you will see your talent and potential and will be glad to accept you with open arms.

Closing Words

If you're not sure where you stand in regards to getting into your Dream School, you can head over to our Dream School Quiz and see your odds of getting into that school.

As usual, you can always contact us here to suggest a topic we could cover, or, if you'd like a one on one consultation about something personal that you would like some guidance and advice with, you can contact us here.

As always, if you haven't gotten your FREE E-book, "The Elite Institution Guide," we highly suggest it. We have gotten raving reviews from parents about how it has helped them truly guide their children to success and we highly recommend that you download it for FREE as soon as possible. Secondly, if you're a parent who is interested in getting your child into the Ivy League, for a limited time only, we're giving away one of our E-books in our "Ivy League Fastlane" series for free right here. Check that out and be sure to grab your FREE e-book before it disappears forever.

We're glad you've stuck with us this far and look forward to continuing this journey with you when we release our next post in the newsletter.

We'll speak with you soon.

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