My twin girls, best friends through high school, couldn’t be more different. One is a self-described BIG extrovert, while the other is a happy introvert. One participated in ALL the activities, the other one carefully selected what activities and organizations she committed to.
But one area where they were almost even was academics. They were both high achievers. The extrovert took a bunch of AP classes, including an extra course that required a 75-page thesis one semester. The introvert took all the same AP classes and excelled.
One twin soared while the other did not. (Photo courtesy of Alisha McMillen)
At the end of their junior year, when GPAs are sent to colleges for consideration, the introvert had achieved a 0.2 higher GPA than the extrovert. They both barely missed the top 10 percent at their small private school. (Top 10 percent was only 9 students, so it was a challenging goal to meet.)
Both girls saw their director of college counseling to choose their reach, target, and safety schools. (Reach schools are difficult schools to gain acceptance to, given the student’s credentials; target schools are those with requirements that a student’s credentials fully meet, resulting in a high likelihood they’ll be accepted; and safety schools, also traditionally called back-up schools, are schools for which the student’s credentials easily meet the requirements, resulting in an almost definite acceptance.)
So, both girls jumped into the college application process. The extrovert dove in headfirst quickly applying everywhere, while the introvert procrastinated, submitting applications and essays at the last possible moment.
They had comparable grades, but the extrovert’s resume was full of titles and responsibilities — she was president of the Thespian Society, on the swim team, a member of National Honor Society, on student council, and either an officer or member of many other on-campus groups, including being chaplain for a few organizations. She also had job experience as an extra boost.
Her ACT score was one point lower than her sister but based on everything I had read about the well-rounded student; we weren’t worried about her getting into her target colleges. We were hoping she’d also get into some of her reach schools.
The introvert had a great resume, too, though it was much shorter and didn’t hold as many officer appointments or organizations in general as her sister’s. She had the 0.2 higher GPA and a one-point higher ACT but just didn’t have the busting-at-the-seams resume her sister had.
We were hoping she would at least get into her target schools. Silly mom was hoping they’d choose the same college, even though they are very different. I was thinking about college move-ins, holidays, and graduation dates (will Dad and I have to divide and conquer?).
Here’s where things started to fall apart. Extrovert (the one we thought was a shoo-in) applied early and heard early. For her top three schools, she was deferred, deferred, and waitlisted. (A deferral means the college wants to review the application again with the regular decision pool of applicants. Waitlisted means an applicant has the necessary qualifications and has been thoroughly reviewed by an admissions counselor, but the college couldn’t offer them a letter of acceptance then.)
This didn’t mean she definitively wouldn’t get in eventually, but it could go either way. These were her three “target” schools, not reach schools (none of which accepted her). She was accepted into all her safety schools, but that wasn’t the outcome we expected. Extrovert decided she didn’t want to go anywhere that didn’t really want her, so she completely took her previous three top prospects off her list. There were many tears behind those decisions, but she couldn’t be talked out of crossing them off her list with finality.
Meanwhile, Introvert was accepted to all her targets and safeties. But it still became a very challenging time for her. After the first two schools where Introvert was accepted and Extrovert was not, our Introvert stopped telling us when she was accepted because she didn’t want to upset her sister.
What should have been celebrations turned into crying from one and silence from the other. One private university, the third of Extrovert’s favorites (one that deferred her acceptance), not only accepted Introvert but gave her a significant scholarship amount. Even with that exciting news that should have been celebrated, Introvert kept the news to herself out of concern for her sister.
When I say it was a challenging time, I mean it was a CHALLENGING time. Our friends who had been through the application process before kept telling me, “They’ll end up where they’re supposed to.” That may be the case, but it certainly didn’t make the situation any easier to handle at the time.
A testament to my Extrovert, she pulled up her bootstraps and decided to visit one of her safety schools — one offering her significant scholarship money but 800 miles from home.
We didn’t want her to move that far, but what were we to do given the situation? So, we supported the initial decision to visit. Her previous top three were big Southern football schools with many sororities and a big social life. Her safety was a small (still Southern) Christian college. It has football and sororities but is a very different feel than the big schools she was initially targeting. But when she finally toured, she felt at home immediately, so we fully supported her decision to accept their admissions offer.
A testament to my Introvert, she quietly and sometimes privately celebrated her successes without hurting her sister. Ultimately, she was accepted to one of her “reach” colleges, which she decided was the right place. It was a little easier for us parents to adjust, as her college is just a 150-mile drive from home.
We are now a year past the college acceptance drama, and both girls are soaring, even though they wish they were closer to each other and saw each other more. And this mom has accepted that we’ll continue juggling move-in and move-out dates and holidays each year, as well as graduation dates in 2026.
They’ve both made fantastic friends at their respective universities and are excited to see each other when we’re together. Like the college acceptance process, it’s not all smooth sailing.
But let’s face it. Is life ever really smooth sailing?
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