Skinny Envelopes

It's that time of fear for high school seniors, when the colleges pass judgment on their lives

Most adults can recall with startling clarity decades-old mistakes and moments of rejection: those dropped passes and bad prom dates that mark even the smoothest childhood. But of all the memorable humiliations of youth, none are more potent than the one that comes in a skinny envelope one day during your senior year in high school. In the world of college admissions, good news comes in fat envelopes. Skinny envelopes contain the applicant's version of a "Dear John" letter: heartbreak in three paragraphs. What can parents, who spend two decades nudging their kids forward, applauding every soccer goal and clarinet solo,...

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