Real Parent Advice for When Your Child is Rejected from Every College

Teen boy sitting at his computer desk, dejected with his head in his hands

Real Parent Advice for When Your Child is Rejected from Every College

Published on August 3, 2023

Teen boy sitting at his computer desk, dejected with his head in his hands

This story was first published in our Paying for College 101 (PFC01) Facebook community. It’s been edited for clarity and flow. 

A parent in our PFC101 group was seeking advice after her academically motivated student was rejected from every college. The student was a National Merit Finalist, had a 4.6 GPA, 15 Advanced Placement classes with all 5’s on scores, and a 1560 SAT score. The student applied for a computer science and math major. 

The parent was wondering about three options:

  1. The student was accepted to a state school with rolling admission but is unsure if accepted into the honors program yet. Parent is wondering if the student should do a year here and then transfer as a sophomore.
  2. Take a gap year and reapply next year?
  3. Any other options?

Here’s what other parents had to say.

Attend the state school – and stay 

Many parents suggested giving the state school a try. Kirsten S. encouraged the parent’s student to “hang in there,” but also recommended going to the state school and seeing how things are. 

“If your child is excited about the ‘state school,’ they should try it with open eyes. They just may realize it was exactly what they were looking for.” – Angela L. 

Others noted that there’s nothing wrong with attending state schools. And sometimes, students can end up with the same outcome no matter what school they attend. 

“Go to the state school and make the most of the time and experience there. Your child will come out with a degree and job/salary just the same as they would if they attended the other schools they applied to.” – Julie C.

Go to the state school – and transfer

Other parents suggested using the state school to open up other doors by transferring after a year. Jean K. said that’s the option she would do with her student. 

“Go to the state school and apply to transfer as a sophomore. Many kids leave computer science after the first year and there will likely be spots elsewhere.” – Rachel L. 

Katerina K. said she thinks that transferring would be an easier admission compared to re-applying after a gap year.

Take a gap year

While a gap year isn’t for everyone, a few parents offered it as an option. 

Amy W. said her son was in a similar situation last year. While he was accepted to several programs, none were his top choice. “He chose to take a gap year and has been thriving,” she said. After reapplying as an incoming freshman, he was accepted to his perfect fit school. During his gap year, he did several things, including an internship with a tech startup company. 

If merit and scholarships are needed, Jennifer K. said she would consider asking the student to take a gap year. This way, the student could apply to a different set of schools and get some auto merit options. 

Liz R. mentioned there are programs that will help with admissions after taking a gap year.

Apply to other schools

“I personally would be sitting there right now applying to any schools still taking applications and that have good merit. While they may not be the first choice, there is a feeling of satisfaction they will get if a school offers scholarships making them feel wanted.” – Amie T. 

Many parents suggested applying to other schools if the student isn’t excited about the state school. Several parents said there are schools that offer rolling admissions, so students can still apply. 

Parent Victoria K. said she would start applying to other schools because “computer science just gets harder every year.” She suggested applying to the University of Alabama Huntsville. “Move forward and don’t look back,” she said.

“There are plenty of other amazing colleges out there. … Many times kids get stuck in applying to the same schools as everyone else when there are plenty of other colleges out there where they can get just as good an education and college life experience. Good luck.” – Jill O.


Use College 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:

Why Taking a Gap Year Could Be a Senior’s Best Next Decision

The Pros and Cons of Attending a Community College Before a University

10 Reasons to Consider Smaller Schools with High Acceptance Rates




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