How to handle rejection from a college


Rejection hurts, and a rejection from any college can be a particularly difficult blow for a young person. Being denied entry into a university might be interpreted as a failure to a student. They're going to have to process the emotions of not getting to that college, particularly if it is their dream school. They're going to be in social situations where they won't be proud to share their college news with classmates, and they're going to need to figure out what happens next. 

If a student is denied from a school, give them time to process on their own terms, and then explore solutions together. It might be worth taking a closer look at the schools they were admitted to. Visit the campuses and see which one feels like a good fit. Some students start at a community college and later transfer into a four-year university. Another option is to take a gap year. Encourage your student to pursue opportunities that help them develop skills and knowledge that can later be applied to a degree.

The most important thing to know is that there are several options for getting into college, and every  path is different. Support your student in the path that works best for them.

Rejection is tough

When a student doesn't get into a school, they're going to feel that they've failed.

In fact, it's much more complicated than that.

Some schools are extremely restrictive in who they accept.

You might be applying to a school that has a six to ten percent acceptance rate, and that means that a lot of qualified students who have applied to that school are going to get denied.

And let me be clear about that, that means they are admissible, they meet the requirements to attend the university, the SAT score might be high enough, the GPA, and still not get accepted.

That's a real thing and so families need to be aware of that.

In the moment, getting rejected from a school that you're interested in, uh, frankly it hurts.

It hurts for a young person, and they're going to process real emotions when they get those denial letters.

My recommendation as the role of the parent is, is not to, you know, not to take it too lightly and say "You'll be fine."

Start by just honoring the feelings that they're having, respecting them, and helping them process it.

Asking them how you can help them process this and really, you know, walk with them as they go from disappointment to finding alternate plans.

So when you get rejected at schools, hopefully you've also applied to some schools that you've been accepted to. Take a look at the schools that you were accepted to and give them a whole second look.

If you have the ability to, I do recommend visiting the schools that you were applied to, even for a second time.

In the situation where you may have only applied to a couple schools and didn't get admitted to either of them, there are still options for you.

Many schools have rolling applications – meaning that you can apply at any point in time prior to the start of the semester.

Even if it's May, I would research schools that are still accepting applications.

Another option is of course community colleges. 

Community colleges provide you an opportunity to work toward an associate's degree or begin taking college classes that can help your admissibility into a four-year university or college at a future time.

You know another option too for students who might have been denied admission to universities is to take a year off, get some work experience, try to spend some time working toward your interests, career, or job opportunities that might help you develop a skill that you might actually translate into a degree in the future.

Remember that what you're student is processing might feel like a personal failure to them, but it also is possible that it could be a social failure. There is great social currency in coming to school and saying where you've gotten in to in terms of universities, and your student, if they've gotten a denial, is likely going to go into a social situation where they're not going to be necessarily proud of the outcome, and they're going to be measuring themselves against their friends. 

Just really work on being there for them.

It' important to help them understand that there are many paths to success and everybody's journey is going to be different, but I really recommend saying that message when you think they're ready to hear it and allow them to process their, the news from the colleges that they applied to on their own timeline in their own way.