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Accepted or Rejected Let's All Be Supportive During Decision Month

Uploaded: Mar 4, 2020

Written by John Raftrey

This post is for both students and parents.

For the student:

This is going to be a tough month.
Almost every senior will get a rejection letter this month.
This is what happens. You don't get into your top choice but your best friend did. Or, you did get into your top choice but your friend didn't and you feel guilty. Or, somebody you consider less deserving than either one of you gets in. Or you get into Harvard but you are bummed because you didn't get into MIT. Or, you realize you really will be going to your safety school.

It will hurt. For most it will get better. Like the penalty kick you missed that cost your team the league championship, it will fade. However, if it overwhelms you, tell a trusted adult and get help.

This is the REAL college admissions test--how you deal with success and non-success.

Think of it as the PSAT of life. Have a plan. For example, promise yourself you will allow yourself to feel crappy for 24 hours and then get ready for the next school result, like an athlete focusing on the next game. Promise yourself you will be over-the-moon happy for 24 hours and then start to think about whether you really want to go to that school or did you just want to get accepted at that school. Whatever your plan is, it will give you control, not over the outcome, but over your reaction to the outcome. Also, it gives you permission to have whatever emotions you have. Those are YOUR emotions. If after a few days you are truly depressed, then talk to a mental health professional. This process can sometimes bring out emotions we didn't know were there.

Wherever your friends get accepted, feel genuinely happy for them. Help them celebrate. Getting into college is a big deal.

Here's the good news:
Those college essays you wrote about your grit and tenacity will be tested. But you are stronger than you think and because you really do have grit and tenacity, you will get through this month no matter where you got into college. You will celebrate your acceptances. You will decide to make that college work for you. You will realize the Periodic Table of the Elements will be the same at your school as the one at MIT. Differential Equations will still be the class that knocks students off the math track and The History of the Peloponnesian War will still be a slog. And then you will kick it into gear. You will realize students from your school go to Harvard Med School and Stanford Law. You will have just enough of a chip on your shoulder to drive you to show you belong at the top schools. This is just not a pep talk, it actually happens.

For the parent:
This may hurt you more than your son or daughter, because we hate to see our kids suffer. Yet, you will still have to be strong. You will show them how to take victory and defeat in stride. You will still love them. They will remember for the rest of their lives the first words out of your mouth, so make them your best.

You will not be able to cheer them up. You will not be able to convince them that Columbia is just as good as Harvard, that San Diego State is just as good as UC San Diego. Do not disparage the schools that rejected them. In addition to being poor sportsmanship, they just might end up going to grad school there. If your child is truly depressed, please get help.

Do not replay the college application essay, the decision to take Calc AB instead of BC, or the seeming lack of community service. The game is over. You have to get them ready for the next game--college and living away from home and dealing with temptation.

And you have to support them when they tell you they really don't want to go to Harvard after all, but would be happier at UC-San Diego. This actually happens.

Realize this is not a grade on your parenting skills. When you run into a friend at Trader Joe's and she says, "Congratulations, I heard Muffy got into Stanford!" Stifle the urge to say, "Thank you." Be nice and tell them you will pass your congratulations along to Muffy.

To track when the decisions come out check out: College Kick Start.

Thanks for the comments from two weeks ago. Here are my two cents.

Common sense:
Thanks for the explanations of UIUC and Cal. My point is that students applying to a college should use the same well-known names the college uses.

Mark Weiss:
I worked in Chicago one summer and it was Champaign Urbana. I never knew why it changed to Urbana Champaign. Thanks for the explanation.

U-M Grad:
Go Blue! A well-written comment reflecting the qualities of a great Michigan education! I agree, when I was a student there in the 70's everybody called it U of M. There are seven other states with a U of M. Hence, I use Michigan. They also used LS&A which is now LSA. I totally agree with you on the Oxford comma and fewer and less. For the rest of you, remember fewer farmers grow less wheat.