Helping Your Child Deal with College Rejection and Acceptance

College application season is an extremely stressful time for high school seniors and parents alike.

Your child is surely feeling the pressure: He may think his whole future is riding on his acceptance or rejection to the schools of his choice. At the same time, you certainly don’t want your child to be devastated by rejection.

The best way to manage college rejection and acceptance is to plan in advance for how you’ll help your child deal with either outcome. Here are a few suggestions!

Apply Wisely

First, help your child make wise decisions during the application process. Doing so can help decrease the possibility of rejection—or at least an excessive amount of rejection letters.

Make sure your child looks at statistics for admitted students at each of the schools he’s considering. On college websites, you can find information about what percentage of students are accepted and what the average GPA and SAT scores are for these students.

If your child falls well below this range, the school is a reach. This doesn’t mean your child can’t apply there, but it does mean he should have realistic expectations. It also means he’ll need to apply to other schools that better fit his profile.

Most experts recommend applying to at least 2-3 safety schools. These are schools that are almost guaranteed to accept your child. You don’t have to call them safety schools, since this can make them seem unappealing to your child, but make sure that he applies to several schools that will likely accept him. This way, he’s free to reach for the stars while still having a backup plan.

Keep the Pressure Off

Your own attitude about college admissions will also rub off on your child. Don’t put too much pressure on your child to get into an Ivy League school or to attend your alma mater.

Even if you’re stressed about the outcome of your child’s applications, try not to show it. You have to be the strong, supportive one in this situation. Remind your child that there are many, many great schools out there. Perhaps the best school for him might be one he’s barely even considered. There’s no need to pin all of his hopes and dreams (or your own) on one school in particular.

Another way to keep the pressure off is to avoid telling friends and family members where your child has applied. Many students prefer to keep their college plans a secret until after acceptance letters come rolling in. You don’t want your child to feel embarrassed or ashamed if you tell everyone he’s going to Stanford and Stanford ends up sending a rejection.

Focus on the Positive

Your child will likely receive at least a few rejection letters; it’s part of the process. Help him focus on the positive qualities of the schools that do accept him.

No matter what schools send acceptance letters, celebrate! Go out and buy some gear in school colors, take your child for a visit and be excited and enthusiastic, and research all of the wonderful benefits of the school. Find classes, clubs, or extracurricular opportunities that your child will get excited about.

You can also remind your child that only about 65% of high school graduates go on to college at all. College isn’t a guarantee, and it’s exciting that attending a college or university is indeed part of his future.


As you help your child apply to colleges, make sure he does his research and is wise about where he sends his applications. Encourage your child not to set his sights on one school in particular, and talk about the benefits of all the schools he’s applied to.

Keep the pressure off as much as possible, and help your child celebrate and get excited about his options once acceptance letters start arriving.

Rejection isn’t fun, but you can help your child embrace the positive.




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