NPR logo College Rejections: Not Always So Simple

College Rejections: Not Always So Simple

You'd be surprised what activities on an application would serve as deal breakers for admissions officers. sshepard/iStockphoto hide caption

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sshepard/iStockphoto

You'd be surprised what activities on an application would serve as deal breakers for admissions officers.

sshepard/iStockphoto

My cousin in Georgia can finally rest easy — for now. She applied to five colleges and got into three. Luckily, her top choice (and my alma mater), Georgia State University, graciously accepted her without the worries of being placed on the waiting list. Back when I was applying to college, Georgia State was a safety school for most of my friends. In our heads, that school was a guaranteed shoo-in, more or less. Not anymore — the times, they are a changin'.

While my cousin's journey toward higher education is almost complete, I wondered if there were any obvious reasons she got rejected from the other two schools. Her writing skills are top-notch, but she admits math isn't her strongest point. Yet she participated in many extracurricular activities. What more were the admissions officers looking for? Perhaps the question is: was there anything that automatically counted my cousin out among the thousands of applicants?

In a piece for The Daily Beast, Kristina Dell highlights nine of the craziest college rejection reasons from the people making the final decisions. Here are a few of the head-scratchers:

2. Things Raising a Red Flag

• Ivy League admissions officer:

"We had one great line. A young woman wrote that she took a summer course and she meant to say in 'organismic biology' but she wrote 'orgasmic biology' and went on to say it was the best course she'd ever taken. We didn't reject her for that outright, but it makes you look twice."

5. Choosing the Wrong Sport

• Admissions officer from a liberal arts college in the Northeast:

"We had one kid who was an accomplished race-car driver who competed in some professional-level races. He would have been an extraordinary student, but we took others first and put him on the waitlist. It [racing cars] is really interesting, but it doesn't necessarily translate into something he could do while he was here."

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There's no telling what will raise a red flag at one school, and a checkered one at another. A note to prospective students: let's just say that using your college application as a way to practice your stand-up routine isn't the best decision.