Practical Communication

Seven Success Tips for Surviving the College Acceptance (and rejection) Season

I wrote this blog post for Bright Futures Consulting earlier in the week and thought it might be helpful for my own blog readers. Although it was written for parents of students applying to college, the tips could equally be applied to a loved one who is conducting a job search and faces the challenge of being rejected by a potential employer.


WHelping your child survive college acceptance March Madnesse recently posted a link to an article directed toward students on how to handle/view college rejections. Here’s some advice to parents now that “March Madness,” the biggest college acceptance (and rejection) month of the year, is upon is.

1. Before you check the mail, be sure your student knows that you’re proud of him or her no matter what colleges say “yes.”

2. Be supportive.
This may be the first time your student has faced a major life disappointment. Be sure to let your student know that no matter what college he or she attends, you know he or she will be successful.

3. Don’t “bash” a college because your student isn’t accepted.
You were all gung-ho when your student was applying to Ivy U, but now that he or she was rejected, don’t start bashing the school or saying it wasn’t good enough. Doing so sends mixed messages and your student will likely see through your ruse and feel worse about him or herself than if you’d just acknowledged the rejection and moved on.

4. Don’t disavow your student’s feelings.
Avoid saying, “You didn’t want to go there anyway,” when you know a school was your student’s first choice. Your student should be allowed to express or vent feelings. However, do help your student move on and focus on the acceptances you know will come. Let your student know that rejection at a college is not the end of the world, just one of many bumps in the road of anyone’s life.

5. Remind your student that a rejection doesn’t mean “not good enough.”
There are many more qualified students that apply to any given college in the world than there are spaces in any freshman class. Rejection doesn’t mean your student wasn’t good enough, it simply means there wasn’t enough room for everyone. Additionally, every college has a “makeup” they’re trying to achieve– a certain number and type of students, athletes, majors, backgrounds, etc. Some things are just out of the control of the student.

6. Don’t be a “Monday Morning Quarterback.”
Now is not the time to berate your student for not taking the SAT again, for getting better grades as a freshman, or anything else that focuses on the past. This is a waste of energy. Your student already knows if he or she didn’t do everything necessary to be accepted to the “dream college.” Additionally, don’t let your student focus on the past. If you want to use poor past performance as a learning opportunity, acknowledge the truth of the past and focus on the lessons learned so the same mistakes aren’t made in the future.

7. Celebrate ALL acceptances.
It doesn’t matter if your student only gets into his or her safety school. Every freshman class is limited to a certain number of students and yours was found to be one of the ones that school wanted. Make a big deal of every acceptance! Celebrate!


Finally, even if your student is accepted to every college to which he or she applied, be prepared for a meltdown. Once acceptances arrive, student stress rises. The reality that they’ll be leaving home and moving on into the adult world is very stressful. Be sure to keep your eyes open for signs of excessive stress and help reassure your child that he or she is prepared for the future. If not, then now is the time to start preparing. If you’re that parent who still does your senior’s laundry and gets him or her up in the morning, STOP! Unless you’re planning to move into the dorm too, it’s time your student learns to do for him or herself.


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