As a parent, you just want to help. It is in your nature that when you see your child suffering, all you want to do is to try to make it better. In the world of increasingly selective admissions, denial is inevitable. So, how can parents help their children cope with college rejection?
Step one is to accept that college rejection is complicated. This complexity stems from your child’s emotions, your emotions and both of your preconceived notions. It gets even more convoluted when students feel pressure from their classmates. The worst part is the judgment that some students feel from their parents’ friends as if they let down their parents. Parents need to understand and accept that where their child chooses to attend college is not an assessment of their parenting skills.
Everyone wants that elation that comes with a thick envelope, the balloon-decorated mailbox and the sense of pride of the college-branded bumper sticker on the car. But what happens when you have to turn to plan B? When there are no balloons… just resignation. How do you help your child deal with college rejection?
The advice in these types of scenarios often sounds cliche, but the truth is that, as resistant as your child might be, it works. Here are some ideas to share with your child:
Don’t Take it Personally
Get your child to understand the big picture. If sharing stats on the number of students who applied to USC and were denied helps cope with college rejection, then use them. Not being accepted is NOT the equivalent of “failure.” Schools are devoted to fulfilling their institutional priorities by admitting students who are often underrepresented. Perhaps your child is a classic “over-represented” student. There is nothing you can do to change your demographics.
Don’t Feel Like This Only Happened to You
Your child is in the same boat as a lot of other students. Many of their dreams weren’t realized either. You and your child are not alone. Try reaching out to friends to commiserate together. Then, try to move on together—it will be nice to have the support.
Don’t Get Caught Up With the Prestige Factor
It is important to understand that a brand name doesn’t equal success or, more importantly, happiness. The biggest factor that determines your job placement opportunities is your undergraduate experience.
Try not to obsess about the rejections, and do your best to remain positive about your other opportunities. Instead of spending lots of time agonizing, use your time and energy to look for another school that will like you as much or even more. Occasionally, college rejections can send a student down a different path, and new unexpected opportunities can arise. Some students think they want a big school only to realize they’ll have more chances to shine at a smaller school. Remain positive about other institutions—celebrate your acceptances!
The overall story here is that the “rejection letter” may be the first time your child experiences serious disappointment. They may have a bruised ego for a little while, but as all adults know, they’ll grow and get over it. Managing this rejection will make your child better prepared for future obstacles. College rejection happens to practically all students, but that doesn’t mean it needs to define the rest of their lives.
College rejection may mean it is time to reevaluate your college planning process. Schedule a free consultation to learn expert tips on how to navigate college planning and ensure your child ends up in the right place.