When my son got rejected from his college of choice, I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to tell my son that everything always works out, but I didn’t because I knew that wasn’t what he wanted to hear while the rejection was raw. (It turns out he is super happy at the university he ended up at). I wish I was better prepared as a parent to help my teen through this emotional part of the college process.
For all you parents facing March Madness, that time when the acceptance and rejection emails arrive , here is some great advice for coping from International College Counselors, a Florida college advisory firm.
How to Help Your Child Cope with College Admissions Results
1. Say positive things. Let your child know how proud you are of him or her for getting through high school and wanting to go to college. Even before knowing if your child was accepted or rejected at schools.
2. Stay supportive. This is a hard time for a student whether they get into their first choice college or not. If your child gets rejected, this may be the first time they’re dealing with major disappointment. A parent’s job is to stop this from damaging self-esteem. For students who get in, after the initial euphoria, they’ll start thinking about what going to college really means. Leaving home, leaving friends, leaving a comfortable routine, having to find themselves, and make their own way is difficult. Understandably, this may feel overwhelming.
3. Talk it out. Allow your child to be emotional. Talk about getting accepted and rejected and turn it into a teachable moment. If your child is hurt over a rejection, be sensitive and acknowledge the pain of disappointment. Then help your child accept that he or she didn’t get in and move forward with the opportunities that do present themselves. Children who get accepted have a right to be proud, but help them understand that it’s important to be sensitive to the feelings of their friends who may not be so happy with their admissions results.
4. Focus on what’s important. Let your child know that getting into a first pick college is important, but it’s not the end of the world if they don’t. Let your child know you don’t love or like them any less and they shouldn’t love or like themselves any less either. College is one step on a long road. Much of the college admission process was out of your family’s control. College admissions are highly subjective. A high GPA isn’t the only thing that counts. Maybe the band really needed a new oboe player.
5. Get help. Call or meet with your student’s International College Counselor advisor once all the results are in. One of our expert college counselors can go over the pros of the schools a student was accepted into and there are a number of colleges still accepting applications.
6. Don’t let your child take rejection personally. Someone at the college just didn’t think your child was the right fit at the time. Your student may actually be better off someplace else. Your child can have a great experience no matter where he or she goes.
7. Practice gratitude. With your student, thank the people that made a college acceptance possible. Think of the parent who shared the responsibility of driving hours and hours of carpool, a teacher writing a thoughtful college recommendation, a coach staying a little bit longer after practice, and a principal making sure the student got the classes he/she needed. No child gets into college without a supportive team.
8. Say Yay! Celebrate all the college acceptance letters your child gets. Getting into any college is great. Talk to your child about how he or she will let friends know.
9. Reframe the future. Truly worried students may relax knowing that there is always the option to transfer. Our recommendation is to keep this as a back pocket option and not as a goal. Students who go to college with the intent of transferring won’t be able to enjoy the full college experience they can have. Once they settle in, many students are actually very happy.
10. Do something nice. When all the letters are in, celebrate the end of this intense time. Go out for a nice family dinner, or give a student a meaningful gift. Make this time positive.