Students Learn Life Lessons in College Hunt

"I think it's very unfair to think that the only reason that this person is going to the school is to play sports, or because they are a minority, or because they live in an outreach region or something like that," Brown said. "So I believe that everyone that's admitted to the college definitely has the qualifications."

Charles Deacon, Georgetown's dean of admissions, said "diversity is very important" to decision makers at the university.

"We reserve the right to put together the class that we think is most relevant and interesting to each other, and for our purpose of graduating students who'll be successful citizens of our country and contribute to the world," Deacon said. "It's not just the test scores or the grades, but it's a combination of everything. So, there's an awful lot of subjectivity that goes into it at the selective colleges."

May recognized that subjectivity.

"I think there are definitely cases where people get in and it's not fair to get in," she said. "But, you know, life isn't fair in general. And I definitely think it was a good learning experience for myself and everyone that I know to go through it. It's going to be the exact same thing when we try to get a job one day or apply to graduate school, so why not learn it now?"

Brinker tries to prepare her students for the possibility of disappointment.

"What I tell my students," she said, "is that schools, when they receive your application, are not looking for reasons not to accept you. They are looking for the reasons that they could accept you."

Words of Wisdom

Throughout all of the doubt, stress, excitement, and anticipation, each of the students Nightline followed said they learned lessons about the process and about themselves.

"Regardless of what happens, if you get deferred or rejected, just know what type of person you are and have confidence in yourself, regardless of whatever happens," Brown said.

After accepting Georgetown's offer of early admission, Gahl advised all rising seniors to "really start early and decide which colleges they wanted to go. Try to find a school that you really like and look everywhere."

Brinker agreed.

"It's not about the name, it's about the match," she said. "You don't eat the same food as your friends every day. You don't wear the same clothes as your friends every day. You're not going to like the same schools."

Deacon's advice would be to "not treat this as a game that you win or lose, but a journey into an unknown. And it's going to be an interesting opportunity for you to get to know yourself a lot better, because you're going to be asking yourself, 'Who am I and what kind of person do I want to be?' and, 'How will that then match up with these opportunities out there?' "

For now, the universities have made their selections. And the students, having received their letters, made selections of their own. But just weeks after the class of 2007 takes form, the future class of 2008 already is starting the process, looking at schools and requesting applications, complete with essays that they will write and the universities of their choice will review.

ABCNEWS' Michel Martin contributed to this report.

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