Tips for Parents

How to Deal with Your Student’s Rejection Letter

Watching your son get turned down for prom, your daughter’s puppy love tragically fizzle out or a group of friends turn on your child is nothing compared to the rejection you’ll witness if his top college choice “regrets to inform you” that he’s rejected admission.

With deep budget cuts facing colleges, applicant competition is tough. This spring, as your high school senior starts hearing back from schools, keep the following tips in mind if rejection rears its ugly head.

Don’t take it personally. Schools consider a variety of factors – some within your student’s control and others not. Even if your student has a good GPA, high standardized test scores and a well-written application, the school might have internal benchmarks and quotas that affect acceptance.

Contact the admissions office. It’s normal to be upset if your student doesn’t get in to his top choice. Once the emotions pass, suggest that he call the admissions office to find out why he wasn’t accepted. If he’s considering transferring to the school next year, this conversation will help him submit a successful application.

Have a plan B. Hopefully your student has already considered what he would do if his top school didn’t work out. Whether there are awaited letters from other colleges, applications to trade schools or applying for work on the horizon, encourage him to pursue all opportunities that will bring him closer to his goals.

Be thankful. Help your student find the silver lining in this seemingly negative news. Think about what your student has learned from this experience – or what he might be missing out on if he weren’t rejected. Rejection provides opportunities for growth, perseverance and success. Thomas Edison reportedly made 1,000 failed attempts to invent the light bulb, but said, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” Consider this a positive step along your student’s life path.

Find short-term incentives. After a big letdown or rejection, it can be hard to get back to day- to-day tasks. Factor in senioritis, and your student could potentially see grades falling after a rejection letter, which won’t help with applications to other schools. Instead of keeping his eyes on next year, college and beyond, help him to focus on his tests coming up, a concert he’s looking forward to going to or spring break. Just because he didn’t get in to that school, doesn’t mean life as he knows it is over.

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