College Love

John Carpenter has advice for the college lovelorn in this month's guest blog.

Don’t do it.  Don’t fall in love.

It’s the month of love, and you’d have to be blind or an old grump not to see the messages everywhere, brandished in hot pink letters and decorated with cupids and hearts.  I particularly like those little candy hearts that have messages stamped on them such as BE MINE, FOREVER YOURS, and YOU’RE A CUTEY. And of course, because just about everything in this world makes me think of college admissions, February is a month that is also very much connected to what juniors and seniors are going through in that regard. 

For seniors, this short month feels like the longest month, and for juniors, February means watching what seniors are going through while beginning to get serious about their own college search. For both groups, the messages of love are everywhere:  view books, websites, college fairs.  Pick me!  Apply here!  Make us your first choice!  And my message to you:DON’T DO IT. 

Don’t fall in love. 

With a college. 

Not quite yet. 

What I mean, for both juniors and seniors, is to keep all your options open—especially now.  Don’t delude yourself with the myth that there is “the perfect school” out there.  Just like there will be more than one perfect human love in your life, there can also be more than one college where you’ll be happy, where you can get a great education, and from which you’ll be prepared to start an excellent life and career. 

There are conflicting messages from colleges everywhere—and from college counselors sometimes, too—about finding the right fit, about making the best choice.  The truth is this: several places are probably right for you.  Don’t pin all your hopes on one school or even two—especially now that you’re waiting to hear where you’ll be admitted.  I’ve seen too many kids commit themselves to one particular school before they know if they’ve been admitted, and if the admission decision turns out to be a no, then those big soft hearts get hurt—and for no good reason.

Instead, recognize that all the schools on your list are good options for you.  That’s why you applied to each one, right?

It’s important to resist falling in love right now—wait to see who has decided they love you.  And then, yes, then—open your arms to those schools and make the decision about which one you’ll love the most by accepting their offer to you. 

Love is wonderful and we all deserve to feel a bit of it.   But be smart about giving your heart away. Once you have all your admissions offers, embrace the schools that said yes to you.  But for now, fight that urge to fall in love.  Just wait.  Cheesy advice?  Maybe.  But I’ve seen too many hearts broken by admissions decisions that have very little to do with you, and those decisions feel awful.  Hold on to your love.  For now.


John Carpenter is Director of Admissions and University Counseling at UWC Costa Rica. He also works as an independent college counselor and is the author of Going Geek: What Every Smart Kid (and Every Smart Parent) Should Know About College AdmissionsYou can find John's blog at

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