Fat Envelopes, Skinny Envelopes

This is the time of year when a lot of high school seniors camp out by their mailbox. The end of March through the middle of April is a traditional time of waiting for letters of admission (or rejection) from colleges and universities.

The theory states that if you get a fat letter from a college to which you’ve applied, you’re in. If it’s a skinny letter, you’re out. As with all generalities, there are exceptions. One of America’s most prestigious universities sends out a small, skinny envelope with its good news of “Yes!” There may be other skinny “yes” letters out there too.

The thinking is that a college will want its admitted students to fill out a bunch of housing forms and so forth that are included with the letters of admission. That’s why admit letters are fat. The skinny ones offer consolation along with rejection and only require a single sheet of paper. Some schools send good news in a thin envelope and send all the forms in a separate mailing. So, when you pull a skinny envelope from your mailbox, don’t abandon ship. Read it first. You may be surprised.

Waiting is the hard part, though. What can you do while waiting for the mailman to deliver? If you mailed your application in January, you’ve been waiting almost three months now. If you haven’t done so already, you may want to map out a few contingency plans, you know, the old “If I don’t get into college A, I’ll make the most of college B.” If you have a good set of contingencies, you’ll be able to make the most of your final acceptance situation.

If you’ve done your application planning properly, you won’t be shut out. Ideally, you’ll be offered admission by all the schools to which you’ve applied. That gives you an advantage in dealing with financial aid offers. If you’ve been accepted to several strong schools, you may be able to find out which one is willing to provide the greatest financial incentive for you to attend.

Regardless of how your fat or skinny envelope drama plays out, retain your perspective. Reality tends to dwell somewhere between the extremes of elation and disappointment.

Oh. I think I just heard the mailman.