Skip to main content
University Acceptance: Not a sliding door moment

Submitted by sgrainger on

Back in my day, I don’t remember there being a great deal of time allotted to researching, visiting and, generally, due diligence before selecting or applying to universities. My parents, as immigrants to Canada, had not gone through the university application process. (My father had become an architect through night school in the U.K., by articling in an architect’s office, and passing the necessary professional examinations.) My high school, like most other high schools of the time, did not put significant resources into the university admissions process either.

Thankfully, and to the benefit of your children, times have changed.

That said, I believe the stresses and strains of dealing with university acceptances and rejections is far greater today. Or, at least it appears that way when I compare it to my own experience.

Talking to students recently, I was reminded of the profound significance that many parents attribute to this pivotal moment in their child's life. For some, it may feel like a “sliding door moment”— a critical juncture that will shape the trajectory of their child’s future. However, as the head of a high school, and a former teacher, who has witnessed countless graduating classes embark on diverse paths, I want to offer a different perspective — one grounded in reassurance, perspective, and faith in the resilience of your children.

It’s understandable that, as parents, you may view university acceptances as a defining milestone — a marker of your child’s academic achievement, potential and future opportunities. The allure of a particular prestigious institution, and the promise of success that accompanies an acceptance letter, can indeed be compelling and a source of pride. However, it’s important to recognize that this perspective, while understandable, may also put extra pressure on your child and/or disproportionately influence their own preferences.

The truth is, university acceptances are just one chapter in the larger narrative of your child’s life — a narrative that is rich with potential, regardless of the outcomes of any one application. While acceptance into a top-tier university may open certain doors, it does not guarantee happiness, fulfillment or success. Similarly, rejection or waitlist status does not diminish your child’s worth or potential in any way.

As an educator, I believe wholeheartedly in the inherent value and potential of each and every student; our faculty and staff do, too. We see beyond the confines of university rankings and admissions statistics to recognize the unique talents, passions and strengths that make your child unique, and, yes, extraordinary. Whether they receive multiple acceptances, face rejection, or land somewhere in between, we know that they are capable, resilient and loaded with potential.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving fulfillment and happiness.

So, parents, as you continue to navigate parenthood, with uncertainty and anticipation, embrace the journey with open hearts and unwavering faith. Please release yourself from the weight of expectations and comparisons, and instead celebrate the unique journey that lies ahead.