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As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

College Rejection Letters

This   is  the  time  of  year  when  students  learn    how

successful they were at playing the college admission game.   The

Star-Ledger  called April the Cruelest Month because  it  showers

rejection  upon  students.  Students get into fine  colleges  but

many still  feel that  they  have failed because they did not get

into  the  college of their first choice.  It is still true  that

you get out of any college what you  put into it.
Parents will have to help their children deal with rejection

at  this  time.  Research shows that  most college  students  are

very happy with the colleges they eventually attend even  though,

in most cases, it is not the college of their first choice.  They

may  not  feel this way immediately because  many  students  have

difficulty  adjusting the first year.  In most cases, this  would

happen  no  matter  what  college  the  students  attend.    This

phenomena  is  not a function of the college, but a  function  of

freshmen in general. They might feel, however, that the grass  is

greener  on the other campus and they would be doing much  better

if only they had gotten into the other college.  This is  usually

not  so.   It helps for parents to encourage  their  children  to

remain in whatever college they are at for at least two years.

Keep encouraging them.  Respond to the emotion expressed not

the   content.   It  usually  does  not  help  to  give   logical

explanations about why the college they finally choose to  attend                        

is  right  for  them.   Sentences like:   “This  college  has  an

outstanding  faculty.   Just  look at all of  the  books  in  the

library.”   Or  even,  “The  football team is  the  best  in  the

nation.”   They really cannot be convinced rationally.  The  best

approach is to respond to the emotion by saying, “It’s hard,  but

I think you can do it.”  I have confidence in you.”  ” I know you

are going through a tough time. Let’s talk about it.”

My son did not get into the college of his first choice.  It

was  a  blow  to his ego.  His response was  to  write  rejection

letters  to the colleges informing them, with great  regret,  and

after  great  deliberation,  that  he  could  not  accept   their

rejections.   Taking  this  action helped him feel  less  like  a

passive victim of the system.  He did very well in the college he

finally  attended  and  while he still looks back  on  the  whole

application/admission  process  as  very difficult,  he  has  few

regrets about his final choice.

Students  should know that it is much easier to transfer  to

the  colleges  of  their original choice as juniors  than  to  be

admitted  as freshmen.  The reason is that some students  do  not

survive  the  first  two years and drop  out,  leaving  room  for

others.   Also, students who do well in their first two years  of

college, are usually acceptable to any other college because they

have a proven track record.

Students usually do not choose a major or begin intense work

in  their  major field until junior year.  Many students  do  not

know what they want to major in as freshmen so may not choose the                  

college best suited for them.  They sometimes can do this  better

as  juniors and make wiser choices.  They can choose the  college

which  has  the strongest department for their major. This  is  a

great advantage since few colleges are strong in all  departments

no matter how great their reputation.

All of these thoughts may help students deal with  rejection

but  in the final analysis what will really help the most is  the

support, sympathy and encouragement of their families.

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