Shirley Bloomquist, a guidance counselor in Fairfax County, Va., has helped many parents of bright and able students who didn’t get accepted to their first-choice college. She says parents can and must help their children deal with the natural disappointment of a rejection letter.
First, be empathetic. “Be supportive of your child’s feelings,” Blomquist advises. “You might say something like ‘Well, that college sure made the wrong choice.’ ”
Your job as a parent is to help your child see the positive side of the schools where she was accepted. For example, by attending a less selective school, your senior will be more likely to finish at the top of her class. That will help if she is thinking about attending graduate school.
It’s natural for parents to be disappointed, too. But don’t let those feelings get blown out of proportion. “Parents can’t react in such a way that their child is not only disappointed for herself but also thinks that she’s let down her family,” Blomquist says. “That can create a hurt that is very hard to heal.” Help your child see the bright side. She may have a better opportunity to shine in other areas—an athlete who might have sat on the bench for four years at a highly competitive school might be a star at another college.
“My advice to parents is to be ready for any decision,” Bloomquist says. Selective colleges have many more qualified applicants than they can possibly admit. A rejection letter from a college doesn’t mean your child isn’t a great kid—it just means she didn’t fit the profile of what the college was looking for that year.
Your child will have other disappointments in her life. Helping her deal with this one will help her handle others in the future.
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