Rejected! Refused! How can a flimsy little envelope carry so much bad news?
For a senior who had his or her hopes pinned on a certain college, rejection can really hurt.
Your attitude as a parent makes all the difference in how your child handles rejection. If you see it as a problem, your child may adopt the same view. If you keep things in perspective, your teen is likely to deal with disappointments more easily.
Here are some tips from ACT for helping your child cope with rejection from his or her dream college.
• Let your child vent his or her frustration, anger, or sadness. Bottling up emotions isn’t healthy. Listen to your child and offer a sympathetic ear.
• Remind your student that the college’s decision isn’t personal. College admissions officials must develop a diverse group of freshmen. Diversity includes, among other factors, geographical area, extracurricular activities and academic interests.
• Give your teen time and space to regroup. Recognize that everyone deals with rejection differently. Some cope by indulging in junk food, watching mindless TV or sulking. Just monitor the behavior so it doesn't go on for weeks.
• Encourage your teen to reach out and find support from counselors, teachers and friends. Some things are easier to hear from someone other than a parent.
• Talk to your teen about developing a new plan after he or she has recovered. Help your teen to remember that there are many schools and jobs in the world and there are many paths that lead to happiness and success.
• Praise every acceptance your teen receives, even those from his or her “safety” schools. An acceptance, even to a less-selective school, is worthy of celebration.
• While it’s heartbreaking to see your teen disappointed, rejection is a part of life. Discuss options with your teenager for the upcoming year. A few ideas might include:
Accepting a second- or third-choice college. It might actually be a better fit for your student.
Attending a community college for a year or two and then reapplying to a four-year college. Doing so is a great way to save money and complete transferable classes and, in the end, a final diploma comes from the four-year college.
Taking a “gap” year and working, volunteering, traveling, and/or completing an internship.
Using the year to strengthen credentials. Your student could retake the ACT Test, learn a language or develop new skills that set him or her apart to reapply next year.
Appealing to the college if new information is available. For example, maybe your student’s grades went up dramatically or he or she won a major competition since applying to the college. (Note: A student shouldn’t appeal a college’s decision simply because he or she was disappointed. There must be compelling new information that was not available at the time of application.)