It’s finally that time. After months of hard work writing essays, taking standardized tests, chasing down teachers for recommendations and more, students have heard back from the schools they’ve applied to. Now you may be wondering, what should we do next? Whether your student was accepted, wait listed, or rejected, we’ve got you covered with advice on next steps for each of these outcomes.
Let’s start with the good news first: congratulations to your child!! Doesn’t it feel good knowing that all of their hard work paid off? Whether your teen was accepted into their top choice or their safety school, it means that they’re going to college somewhere. If your student is lucky, then they were accepted into multiple schools and face that difficult decision of picking which school to dedicate the next few years of their lives to. It’s a big decision!
Most schools have Admitted Students days, and if it’s possible for you to go then definitely do it! It will give your student a taste of what it would be like to attend the school. You can observe the college students in their natural habitat and get a feel of the general campus vibe. Talk to admissions, ask questions of students. Make the most of your visit.
If attending Admitted Students Day isn’t an option, there are still ways to determine which school is the right fit. Think about which school would be best for your student academically. If your student wants to be a veterinarian but only one school offers animal science, then that decision should be fairly clear.
And then, there’s the question of fit. Would your student flourish on a larger campus or a smaller one? Urban or suburban? This is also something to take into consideration.
And, of course, there’s the financial aid aspect. You’ll definitely want to compare financial aid packages and consider how important the extra aid is to your family’s budget. If your student strongly prefers one school, but another school offered more aid, you can reach out to the first school and, in a classy way, appeal the offer. Make it along the lines of “This school is my top choice and I would love to attend, but unfortunately because of financial constraints I have to consider other offers. Is there any way we can make this work?” rather than “School X offered me this much! Can you match it?”.
If you need more information, there are third-party websites out there that review schools, such as Niche. These sites feature reviews from actual students of that school. Niche applies a ratings system to over 25 categories ranging from Majors to Campus Dining to Parking. Current students give these categories a ranking and usually also write a brief description reviewing that category. This can be a good way to compare multiple schools.
If your child was accepted to a school that they know they will not attend, let the school know right away. This way, the school can start accepting students from the wait list.
Whatever your student ends up deciding, don’t forget to send in that deposit by May 1st!
Okay, this is probably not the news you wanted to hear, but there is still hope! First, your student should decide if they want to stay on the wait list. Is there even a chance that they would attend if given the opportunity? If not, let the school know thanks, but no thanks. It allows them to move up the next person on the wait list.
If your teen does decide to stay on the wait list, you should still send in a deposit to a school they were accepted to by the deadline. This will ensure they still have somewhere to go if they don’t end up getting off the wait list.
If your teen really wants to attend a school at which they are wait listed, there are some things they can do to improve their odds. They all revolve around a central theme: show the school that they’re really interested in attending. Forbes offers a list of 10 tips on how to get off of the wait list.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, rejection sucks. If your student was rejected from their top choice school, then it really will be a painful experience to go through. They might even start questioning their own worth: “Am I just not good enough for School X?” It’s okay to be sad, but don’t let them forget about what wonderful people they are. Remind your teen that college admissions is just one small part of their life. No matter what happened, they still achieved a ton. And, don’t forget to remind them of the schools they did get accepted to!
Here’s my personal take on rejection: I was rejected from 6 schools – all of which I would have loved to attend and one of which was my dream school where I had imagined myself being a student. I cried. It was rough. It felt like my hopes and dreams were shattered. It felt like the past year of my life was all for naught.
But now? I had to think for quite awhile about how many schools I was rejected by – it’s just not an important memory for me. So while it may feel like a big deal right now, soon it won’t be. A few of my friends from high school attended my “dream school” and honestly, I’m not sure I would have even enjoyed it.
It’s okay to let your child be upset for a few days, but eventually you have to remind them that their life hasn’t ended (indeed it’s really just getting started). They need to focus on the positive! They also need to decide which one of the great schools they were accepted to to attend and focus their energy on getting excited about it.
It’s a tough, emotional, and stressful process but everything will turn out just fine. Plus, if it really comes down to it, there is always the option of transferring.