Wait for the end

Imagine watching 90 minutes of a dramatic movie and then walking out before finding out what happened to all the main characters.

Or reading all but the last two chapters of a mystery novel and never finding out who did it.

Would your descriptions of those tales be accurate if you didn’t know the end?

You’d talk about all the drama, angst, and mystery that built up throughout the scenes and chapters. But without the end, you’d have all the build-up and tension without resolution.

For many high school underclassmen and their families, the current seniors’ college admissions process is like a long story where you miss the end.

Who got in where, who’s going to a dream college, who was shaken by their denials—those might seem like the finale. But the admissions decisions are not the end of the story. And if you take them that way, your vision of the college admissions process will be one that’s foreboding, uncertain, and one that ends with either jubilation or heartbreak.

A year from now, those current seniors will all be returning from college for their holiday breaks. Some who went to dream colleges will have found parts of their schools that, like all schools, are not perfect. Some who attend schools that were once far down on their lists will wonder how they never realized what a great place their new home could be.

But the one commonality you’ll find is that the vast majority of them are happy where they go to college.

Sure, some will be more blissful and glowing than others. But once a student makes the transition and finds their place in college, they typically have trouble imagining themselves anyplace else.

If you want a sneak peek of the end, pay attention to those college freshmen who’ve returned to your hometown this month.

They’ll swap stories about roommates, professors, parties, football games, traditions, dorm food, majors, and everything else they’re experiencing as college freshmen. Notice not just how happy they are in college, but also how proud they are of their schools.

What they won’t be talking about: SAT scores, high school GPAs, college applications, essays, who got in where and why, and everything else that had to do with getting in. Those won’t just be earlier parts of their stories. Those parts will be ancient history.

And even if you don’t get that sneak peek, just remember that what you’re seeing now is the most dramatic part of the story. And remember that your own upcoming sequel will be a lot more appealing if you wait for the end of this one.