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Supporting Your Teen Through The College Admission Season

It’s that time of year that can bring tremendous joy and serious disappointment and frustration to high school seniors who applied to college.  College acceptance (and denial) letters.  This year has been particularly challenging for many outstanding, dedicated, and accomplished students.  And while most teens who didn’t receive admission into their top choice may be temporarily disappointed, others who received several college denial letters could be experiencing anxiety and depression.  Supporting your teen through this process is hard, but remember, this too shall pass.

Here are some tips:

  1. Remembering that receiving a letter of rejection doesn’t change their achievements and accomplishments, intellect and drive.
  2. Normalizing.  With university admissions, it really is all about numbers, or supply and demand.  Nearly all of the marquee universities have experienced record applications for admissions this year, and there simply just aren’t enough spaces to go around.
  3. Keeping in mind that students who would have normally matriculated for the 2020-2021 or 2021-2022 school years, deferred because they didn’t want to pay for “online” schooling, or worked to help support their family.  In addition, some students had personal experiences with COVID, while there was a larger uncertainty about how it would impact all of us.  Now that there’s more stability and awareness of COVID, there’s lots of students who are applying and receiving admission, which further limits available slots.
  4. Looking at the Stanford University’s Challenge Success  website: .  There’s a TON of helpful information on this website, and one of the resources is this paper: .  In short, it postulates that it matters more what you do during your time in college, than what college you attend.
  5. Everyone has a plan, and everything happens for a reason.  We don’t always know what that is, but the belief that “everything will be ok” is a helpful perspective to hold.
  6. Societal misgivings.  In life, we’re told stories to motivate us, but there are no absolute guarantees.  Name a few, and decide the best plan for making sense of them and how to move forward.  Name the emotions and corresponding feelings.  This process facilitates acceptance.
  7. Reapply next year.  Anyone can apply to any university at any time.  
  8. Reflecting on previous disappointments in life by identifying specific examples and ways that they’ve been able to move forward from them.  What tools or resources did they use then, and what can they use now?
  9. Consider attending a local college.  Many have transfer agreements with prestigious universities.
  10. Follow your teen’s lead.  They may want to talk about their emotions and feelings with you or their friends, or they may want to be left alone, don’t push them to talk about it if they’re not ready to.
  11. Time heals everything.  This too, shall pass.

If your teen appears anxious or sad after a few weeks, consider contacting a mental health professional.