It can be the most wonderful time of the year for college admissions as students receive acceptance letters and scholarship offers. Unfortunately, it can also be disappointing and confusing for our students when they are not admitted. Here are some ways parents can help--no matter the decision your student receives.
Congratulations! You have been admitted. . .
· Unless your student is an athlete who will be playing on scholarship or an Early Decision (binding) applicant, don’t feel pressure to commit right away. Wait for other decisions and financial aid packages so your family can make the most informed decision.
· Celebrate the achievement but stay focused on academics. Senior year still matters. Colleges and universities can rescind offers of admission if a student’s grades take a nosedive late in the senior year.
After careful consideration, your application has been denied. . .
· Hug your kid. This can be devastating news for any teenager. Students take college rejection personally and can forget that there is no correlation between gaining admission to college and being a valuable human being. Many of the students who are denied admission to one of their top choice colleges say that the worst part was feeling like they let their parents down.
· Start fresh. Don’t dwell on what might have been. It is time to look forward and recognize that the right college is still out there.
· Ask questions. Let me rephrase that—let your student ask questions! It is perfectly acceptable for a student to contact an admissions office to find out why they were denied admission. This can be a learning experience for the student and often-times make them feel better about the decision. A good admissions officer will recognize the opportunity to help a student deal with this rejection.
· College admissions is not fair. The laws of supply and demand rule and colleges work extremely hard to “build” a class that is academically stronger, geographically, and ethnically more diverse, more athletic, and more creative than the year before. Sometimes being denied admission has little to do with the student. It has to do with the fact that there could be 20,000 applications received at a school that can accommodate only 2,000 students in the first-year class.
After careful consideration, your application has been deferred or waitlisted. . .
· Communicate, but don’t overdo it! Your student should feel free to contact the admissions office and express his/her level of interest in the school. Any new academic achievement should be shared with the admissions committee—not an “A” on a Calculus quiz, but an increase of an ACT score, prestigious award, or significant increase in grades.
· Use caution with recommendation letters. Colleges and universities are inundated with recommendations from successful alums who are writing to urge the committee to consider a student because he comes from a “wonderful family” and is a “great kid”. These letters are often-times meaningless and can really do more harm than good. The best advocate for your student is your student!
· Have a back-up plan. Again, the importance of the “safety” school cannot be over-emphasized.