Early Decision and Early Admission offers from colleges to high school students start rolling in during the first part of December. For many households, this is a stressful time. These college choices are at the top of the student’s college list. They are usually their dream colleges and not receiving an offer of admission can put a damper on holiday celebrations.
Every parent wants their child to attend the college of their dreams; but what happens when the college they want to attend doesn’t want them? How do you help your high school student handle those feelings of disappointment after a college rejection?
Most important: Remember that whatever decision your student receives remember that the college choice is not nearly as important as the college experience. There are thousands of colleges in this country and abroad that provide quality education. The key to having the best college experience is for your student to find the right college; and sometimes you have to be rejected by the one that you thought you loved before you find that your college “soul mate.”
Here are five more tips on handling a college rejection:
1. Don’t offer platitudes.
Don’t you just love it when people tell you, “Everything happens for a reason”? Whether it does or not, it’s not what you want to hear when you experience a disappointment or a loss. Your student doesn’t want to hear it either. When the admission news arrives and it’s bad, your student needs hugs and consoling more than advice.
2. Allow some time to grieve.
Give him time to grieve and wallow in the disappointment for a bit; grieving is part of the process of acceptance. Your student might mope around, want to be alone, and possibly cry. It’s perfectly normal to feel this way, but it’s not healthy to give up and sink into depression and self-loathing. Monitor your these emotions and encourage your student to talk about them.
3. Make a plan.
Once the time of grieving has passed, make a plan. If your student is deferred or wait-listed, decide whether or not that’s a good plan. Or, move on to the other colleges on the list that do offer admission. Evaluate all the options and discuss what to do next. Making a plan will help both of you see the bigger picture. It’s not about which college your student attends, it’s about which college is the best fit.
4. Fall in love with another college.
The quickest way to get over a lost love is to find another. Once your student’s first choice college has slammed the door, it’s time to fall in love with another college on the list. Students sometimes find, as mine did, that one of those colleges is dying to have them – and being loved is very appealing. Visit the college again, compare the financial aid packages, and revisit why it was on the list in the first place. Who doesn’t want to be wanted?
5. Move forward.
One of the hardest lessons for teenagers to learn is that one rejection or failure does not define them. How they handle disappointment and rejection will determine their success in college and in life. There is a good college for every student – a place where a student will thrive in the learning environment. be open to new choices.