10 Ways Parents Can Help Their Students Deal with College Rejections

Teen girl with her head down and her arms wrapped around her knees.
What you as a parent should do if your teen got rejected from his/her top college. First, take a breath, be positive, and follow these 10 pieces of advice.

10 Ways Parents Can Help Their Students Deal with College Rejections

Published July 17, 2019 | Last Updated June 10th, 2023 at 09:26 am

What you as a parent should do if your teen got rejected from his/her top college. First, take a breath, be positive, and follow these 10 pieces of advice.
Teen girl with her head down and her arms wrapped around her knees.

Depending on how students apply for college, their notifications can come at different times.

If your student was accepted – congratulations! But for others, there is most likely disappointment.

If you are the lucky parent of a high school senior, then the title of this article probably caught your eye.

Yep, senioryear is a tough year for the teens AND for their parents.

Furthermore, high school seniors and their parents are, more often than not, unclear about what a parent’s role should be.

I can almost picture thousands of parents of seniors out there scratching their collective heads and just praying for this emotional roller coaster of a year to be over and done with.

Unless you are the parent of a child who got into their top choice school using the early decision process, then you are most likely among the multitude of parents who are trying to deal with an emotional vortex fraught with anxiety and stress.

Helping Your High School Senior Deal With Rejection

Maybe your teen got rejected from his/her top choice college and is feeling really down.

What should you as a parent do?

First, take a breath, have a seat and listen carefully to my thoughts and follow my instructions:

1) Listen to what your child has to say. Validate her feelings of disappointment.

2) Do not add to his or her high stress level by expressing your own anger, anxiety and whatever other feelings are swelling up in your head and heart. Now is not the time for emotional catharsis. Nor is emotionally unloading the right thing to do with your disappointed kid.

3) Tell your child that where she goes to college does not define who she is as a person. Nor does where she ends up going to college determine her overall life happiness. As Karen Gross, former president of Southern Vermont College recently wrote “There are many colleges that can enable student success”. All colleges provide a plethora of opportunities and resources.

4) Remain as upbeat as possible.Mood is as contagious as a virus. Remind your teen that other choices are likely available.

5) Do something unexpected and counter-intuitive like celebrating the rejection. I’m not losing it. We all benefit from having a little fun. Don’t we?

6) Suggest to your child that the rejection may actually be a blessing in disguise. Maybe the school was a bad fit, and he would have been miserable there. Maybe the rejection is actually a favor. I know that this may or may not go over well, but it sure is worth a try because it might be true.

7) In a very clear and supportive way tell your child that the rejection is NOT the end of the world. It may seem that way but in four years, this particular rejection will just be a blurry memory. I have never had anyone come to therapy in their 20s because they didn’t get into their top choice college. Nope, this has never happened in three decades of working with hundreds of young adults.

8) Encourage your child to take a break, stop thinking about college for a day or two and decompress. Everyone benefits from decompression time.

9) Maybe their friend got into this college. Encourage your daughter or son to politely congratulate the friend. Envy is never healthy and will just reinforce your child’s belief that he is undeserving.

10) Praise your teen’s college application efforts, despite the disappointment and temporary setback. After all, life as we know it will go on.

Good luck moms and dads. Keep in mind that this year too shall pass!

Reprinted with permission from Barbara Greenberg,a clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of children, teens and parents. Dr. Greenberg frequently appears on national TV including shows such as ABC Good Morning America, Nightline and CNN. You can visit her website at https://drbarbaragreenberg.com or follow her on Twitter: @parentteendr .

________

Use R2C Insights to help find merit aid and schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend.  

Other Articles You Might Like:

What to Do When You’ve Been Rejected from Your Dream School

Amusing Reasons Why Students Rejected Colleges

Colleges With High Acceptance Rates

JOIN ONE OF OUR FACEBOOK GROUPS & CONNECT WITH OTHER PARENTS: 

PAYING FOR COLLEGE 101

HOW TO FIND MERIT SCHOLARSHIPS

In this article:

Upcoming Events

Similar Articles for You

Dear Roadie, My Son Struggles in AP Courses. Is The Stress Worth It for College?

Advice

Dear Roadie, My Son Struggles in AP Courses. Is The Stress Worth It for College?

Dear Roadie, My son wants to load up on AP classes his senior year because he thinks it will impress...

6 Types of Insurance for College Students and How to Save on Them

College Life

6 Types of Insurance for College Students and How to Save on Them

Navigating insurance options is essential for college students to protect their health, belongings, and finances. However, many people aren’t aware...

How to Write a College Essay That Works

Apply

How to Write a College Essay That Works

Millions of high school students apply for college each year, and many have to write at least one college application...

Become a Member

At Road2College you’ll find everything you need to make the admissions and paying for college process less stressful and more transparent.

TOOLS

Explore R2C Insights™ — your source for finding affordable colleges and merit scholarships.

Coaching

Get coaching on admissions and college financing.

Community

Join Road2College where parents and experts work together to inform and inspire college-bound families.