Dealing with College Rejection Letters: How Parents Can Help

Who is dealing with it better? You or your parents?

Who is dealing with it better? You or your parents?

While there may be one applicant that you know who was accepted to all of her colleges, this is by far the exception. For most, there will be a mix of acceptances and rejections to process. How can parents help? Of course, it depends on the student. For some, simply stepping back and giving some breathing room is all that's needed. For others, a more hands on approach is required to help soothe those open wounds. Here are a few tips for parents laid out by writing coach Julie Fingersh.

  • Don't try to explain it away, but meet your child where he or she is. Rejection is tough for anyone, but getting rejected from a dream college might feel like a student's whole future hopes have been crushed. The first step is to simply acknowledge how bad it feels.
  • Tell your own related stories of rejection. Sharing that you aren't perfect and have also struggled and lived to tell about it can help your child to find the silver lining in the situation.
  • Try to tease apart "reality vs. appearance." While this may look and feel bad to your child, the reality is that college does not define a person, nor does it determine one's future. A few well-chosen facts may come in handy when your child is ready to listen. Here's one to keep in your toolbox: "A 2014 Gallup poll found that when it comes to hiring, a mere 9 percent of U.S. business leaders ranked where a candidate went to college as 'very important.'"
  • Once the sting has lessened, share this article on what makes people stronger. If it's well-timed, it will help to put things back in perspective and enable your child to start to make the most of the options that are available.
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As the Moment Approaches, Remember to Keep a Positive Outlook

Keep a positive outlook!

As the date approaches for you to finally receive a decision from colleges after months, perhaps years for some (especially parents), of waiting, many will have pearls of wisdom to share with you both before and after one of the tensest moments of your life.

Of course we have our own opinions on how important it is to maintain a positive outlook and remember to see the bigger picture. After all, what you will walk away with from your college experience, wherever you end up going, is really about what you put into it.

Our own acumen aside, perhaps the best (and most entertaining) counsel we’ve heard, is a letter addressed to seniors written by Mitch Albom, writer for McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. Check it out. You won’t regret it, and you might even have a few laughs! Nothing like bringing humor into a situation to keep things in perspective.

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