March madness is here and in full swing.
Students and parents are biting their nails and experiencing butterflies in the stomach. However, they’re not even thinking of basketball. They’re thinking of college admissions.
High school seniors know that the acceptance letters are in the mail – or will soon be in the mail.
Realistically, there is little a parent can do to lessen the anxiety. Chances are moms and dads are feeling anxious themselves.
Parents, it’s your job to be the rock. It’s your job to be supportive. Even before the acceptance letters come, let your child know how proud you are of him or her for getting though high school and wanting to go to college. Let them know you think they’ll have a great experience no matter where they go.
And, parents, after the letters arrive, whether your child gets into a first choice college or not, remain supportive. This is a hard time for a student whether they get into their first choice college or not. For students who get rejected, this may be the first time they’re dealing with major disappointment. Your job is to stop this from damaging their self-esteem. For students who get in, after the initial euphoria, they’ll start thinking about what going to college really means. Leaving home, leaving friends, leaving a comfortable routine, having to find themselves and make their own way. Understandably, this may feel overwhelming.
It’s your job to help guide you child through their emotions. This time is about your child, it’s is not about you.
How to Help Your Child Deal with Disappointment
1. Talk it out. If your student is rejected from the first choice college, allow your child to vent their emotions. Talk about it and turn it into a teachable moment. Be sensitive and acknowledge the pain of disappointment. Then help your child, one, accept that he or she didn’t get in and, two, move forward with the opportunities that do present themselves.
2. Let your child know that getting into their first pick college is important, but if they don’t it’s not the end of the world. Let them know you won’t love or like them any less and they shouldn’t love or like themselves any less either. College is a step on a long road. A big step, but not the final destination.
3. Add up what really counts. The college admissions officers are looking at numbers. A GPA, an SAT score, and the number of AP courses. Numbers have little to do with your child as a good person. Besides, it’s too late now to change the numbers, so beating yourself up isn’t going to make anything better.
4. Let your student know a lot of the college admission process was out of his or her control. While the process is fair and thorough, college admissions are subjective. Perhaps even more than most students and parents realize. High scores aren’t the only thing that counts. Subjectivity comes into play as admissions officers compare the applications. Maybe the band really needed a new bassoon player.
5. Don’t let your child take denial personally. Someone at the college just didn’t think your child was the right fit at the time. Your student may actually be better off someplace else and it’s just not apparent right now.
6. Celebrate the college acceptance letters your child does get. Getting into any college is something to celebrate.
7. Remember a student can always transfer. Our recommendation is to keep this as a back pocket option and not as a goal. If a student goes to a college with the intent of transferring, he or she won’t be able to enjoy the full college experience they can have. Many students find that once they settle in, they’re actually very happy.
We at International College Counselors promise. No matter what happens. After the madness, there will be a calm.
ABOUT INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE COUNSELORS
International College Counselors is a US-based company that provides expert college counseling for international students on undergraduate and graduate college admissions, financial aid, tuition, essays, and college applications. Mandee Heller Adler, a graduate of Harvard Business School,
along with her staff of college admissions advisors, tailor the college counseling and college coaching services to address the goals, needs, and dreams of each student.