get into your dream school

It’s hard news to hear, especially at this time of year, but not everyone gets into the school(s) of their dreams. It can be tough to feel disappointed when seemingly everyone around you is celebrating. Your confidence may take a major hit, and it can be difficult to get revved up and excited about where you have been admitted. While this experience is a part of the admissions process for thousands of students every single year, it’s a topic many don’t like to talk about. Below, college admissions advisor Karen Spencer, former admissions officer at Georgetown University and Franklin & Marshall, offers advice to parents looking for help in moving their grieving seniors past disappointing decisions:

  1. Don’t automatically assume you’ll transfer. “It’s unwise to go into freshman year presuming you are going to transfer because it automatically sets you up to be less engaged than you could be (kind of like getting married and saying it’s likely a starter marriage—I don’t like your odds). I often share the story of how many times kids would call after being denied from Georgetown telling me they were planning to apply as a transfer. I never heard from 99% of them. I saw this as a good thing, because it meant those students made peace with our decision and found a new place to love.”
  2. Give it time. “The wound is fresh; give it time to heal a little. Your student may feel differently once she’s had some time to process.”
  3. Be a good cheerleader. “If you can’t be excited for your child’s acceptances as a parent, you’re setting the tone that you are disappointed, and you make it harder for her to get over it. Show your student the positives of the situation.”
  4. Move forward by getting involved. “Go to the accepted student receptions at the schools she did get into. Meet some other students who are excited to be there. Some of that rah-rah spirit might just rub off on her!”

It’s important to remind your student to keep the long view in sight: the vast majority of students end up happy with their final college choice, feeling both socially and academically fulfilled. The sooner your student can become emotionally invested in the colleges she has been admitted to, the stronger her college experience will be, both academically and personally.


Written by Karen Spencer
Karen Spencer is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions consultants. Karen previously worked as a senior admissions officer at Georgetown University and Franklin & Marshall College. Visit our website to learn more about Karen Spencer.