By now, you probably know whether you or your child has been accepted, waitlisted or rejected to college. This is often a hard time, full of emotions, happiness and occasionally sadness. I don’t remember much about being admitted to college, but I do remember that I didn’t end up at my first choice school.  However, I did end up at the best choice for me in the long run. This article is written for both the college applicant and his or her parent and for the purposes of this article, we wrote in the second person.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirst, if you did get into your first choice, congratulations! Look out for college readiness articles soon. If you were waitlisted, again, congratulations. We blogged earlier about how to improve your odds of eventual acceptance. Finally, if you didn’t get into your first choice, I am profoundly sorry. This may feel like the end of your world or that your hard work didn’t pay off. Well, we think you’re great and we want you to know that this was NOT a personal decision, although I know it does feel deeply personal.

Here are somethings to keep in mind as you come to terms with your college prospects:

  1. Take a breath. It’s definitely better to think about your prospects and decisions rather than act in haste. Take a moment, or take several. Just reposition your mind to the new opportunities in front of you. Take a weekend day to take a hike, visit a lake or the ocean or just have family fun. Get in a better head space and let the sadness quell.
  2. InvestigateInvestigate. Explore the colleges and universities you were admitted to. Go on the virtual tour in their website, arrange for a tour or connect with them in an online social community. You may realize how amazing your second choice is and get super excited about the fall.
  3. Know. Most people did not end up at their first choice school. I know, I know. Why should this make you feel better? Because you will still be able to create a life you are proud of.  You can and will thrive, wherever you go to college. Many times, that second or ninth choice school has opportunities that your first choice didn’t have for your field, passion or hobby.
  4. This was not personal. Sometimes, the hardest part about getting over rejection from a top school is thinking that this was about you, or was due to an error in your application. This is simply not the case. Over the years, I have spoken with perhaps hundreds of admissions counselors in all levels of education, and most of these decisions are not personal. It often comes down to how many people from your school applied or how many people like you applied. It’s a bit of a numbers game! The sheer number of applications increase every year, and I know no one likes saying this but…
  5. Know that admissions is a bit like Russian roulette. Not the kindest comparison? Probably not, but it’s true. I once (I think in confidence) had a Head of Admissions at a major university for graduate school (which allegedly has a far more holistic admissions process), say that admissions is completely arbitrary. Yes, she said completely arbitrary, I was in shock! Knowing that this wasn’t personal and may be completely arbitrary, will help you to …
  6. Plan! Why are all my blog posts about planning? So you have readjusted your expectations, realized it’s not about you and have garnered some personal excitement about your other choices. Now, you must plot and plan about your new prospects. You got into your second choice? Yippee! You didn’t get into any college you applied to? Trickier, but you can still end up with your dream life.
  7. You can always make a change. If you do well enough in community college or another program, you can be accepted to a top university. The community college program is an often overlooked way to get in the backdoor of major universities. By way of example, the University of California schools admit a large number of transfers through community college portals.
  8. It will be okay. What ever you decide to do next year, you will have a good time. With the right attitude, all your dreams are still possible, and even that first choice school is not out of reach.
  9. Still dreaming about #1? You can contact your admissions counselor, once (just once) to ask about your application, why you weren’t admitted and how you can improve your chances to be admitted as a transfer. Be polite and establish a professional relationship in case you want to be admitted as a transfer.

Soon this will all be a distant memory. College will be fun, enlightening and edifying. Shift your mindset to know that this is an eventuality. You will have an amazing four years!

Were you able to reset expectations and thrive in hour second or forth choice?

How did you help your child adjust his or her expectations or deal with the heartbreak?

Click here to for our College Counseling Services.

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