• Mr. Jeff Neill

Handling the News


Q: I don't understand why my counselor discouraged me from celebrating my college results in public. Can you please explain?


A: Throughout your time at International School of Dakar, you have been shown and been taught the value of community. You have contributed to ISD in countless ways, and you have taken from it as well. That said, it is imperative that you remember as we move into the season of college results that the best interests of our community need to come first.


Furthermore, the college application process is not a race to be won or lost. It is a process, and therefore, by definition, its value comes from the growth and the transformation that the experience has enabled within each individual. Similarly, it is essential that all of us keep this at the forefront of our minds as we move into the winter and begin facing our own college results and those of our peers.

I want to share two fundamental points here. First, act with class, like you’ve been here before. And, second, be cognizant of public displays of highs and lows (including those on social media).


Been admitted to college? You might be incredibly excited because you have earned admission to your top choice college, but realize that not everyone around you will be experiencing the same euphoria. The vast majority of students will face being denied from colleges to which they have applied; most students will be denied by at least one college. It will happen! As such, keep your emotions in check out of respect and compassion for others and for your community. Relatedly, been admitted to a college further down your list? Realize that comments you make about the place can hurt others around you. For example, “It’s just a safety school” or “I would never go there anyway” can be interpreted quite differently by others who might see that school as the dream they are pursuing. Rise above that.


Received negative news from a college? Our suggestion here is not to keep it to yourself. Instead, share it with your friends and seek support. (And be supportive if your friends share difficult news with you!) However, keep it private out of respect for your community. Please come seek out your counselor and talk it all through behind closed doors.


How do you react to others’ news? Positively. If someone chooses to honor you by sharing with you his or her college results, be supportive. If that news is positive, comments like “Oh, that was my safety school” or “I got in, too, but I wouldn’t ever go there” or “I’ve never heard of that place” all potentially damage the hard-wrought process of that other person and our community in general. These responses show no honor to the other’s process. A simple, genuine, and heartfelt, “congratulations” is all that is needed here. On the other hand, if the news shared is negative, help each other out by refocusing on the end game. While “that is terrible news,” “you must feel awful,” or “that school stinks anyway” all might feel appropriate in the moment, they are simply not enough. Honor your friends by pushing them forward in their process: “that’s tough, but you will end up at a great place,” “terrible news, but you’ve been through much more difficult situations than this,” or even “I’m sure it hurts, but I know you’ll find a great fit” all help with the grieving process while also moving them along. Imagine how you would react to each of these comments now before you’re in the position of having to react unprepared later on.


If you need to vent or celebrate, know that your counselor is always there for you. Come see us. Shut the door. Scream, cry, pound the desk, sing, dance, curse or whatever you need to do to exercise your emotions. We are here for you, but save that from the eye of others who don’t know you, who don’t know the process you’ve been through, who don’t know your situation, but who, like you, are a member of this wonderful community.

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