This is the season when college decisions are out. If you are a parent of a college-bound hopeful, it can be a very stressful time for your child, with possible highs of an anticipated “yes” and the lows of a disappointing “Sorry”, as well as a slew of issues in between Here are a few considerations to best support your child in this process:

Resist temptation of posting your kid’s acceptance:

A key point is that this is your kid’s affair, not yours.  Some of their classmates or friends may be still waiting on their decisions, or have been rejected from the same institution that your child received an offer.  So tread carefully with this.  A better way is to discuss with your child “how do you want to handle this, if relatives or close friends ask you?”  and agree on an approach on how to announce.   And it may not necessarily be a good thing to splash that on social media – people are very divided on this, so discuss this as a family.

Dealing with rejection: 

Your child may feel disappointed with college rejections, which is totally understandable.  They may feel sad, not want to talk about it.  Resist trying to find solutions, or “Monday morning quarterbacking” (what could it have been).  Instead, offer some kind, gentle words, such as “Oh, I know this isn’t what you wanted to have, and it’s totally understandable to feel disappointed.  What can I do to help you feel better?”   Key is to just listen.  You can reassure them that things will turn out well for them in the end.

One of my favorite parent responses from years ago, is Frank Bruni’s heartwarming note about surviving the college admissions madness:

Dear Matt,

On the night before you receive your first college response, we wanted to let you know that we could not be any prouder of you than we are today. Whether or not you get accepted does not determine how proud we are of everything you have accomplished and the wonderful person you have become. That will not change based on what admissions officers decide about your future. We will celebrate with joy wherever you get accepted — and the happier you are with those responses, the happier we will be. But your worth as a person, a student and our son is not diminished or influenced in the least by what these colleges have decided.

If it does not go your way, you’ll take a different route to get where you want. There is not a single college in this country that would not be lucky to have you, and you are capable of succeeding at any of them.

We love you as deep as the ocean, as high as the sky, all the way around the world and back again — and to wherever you are headed.

Mom and Dad

Let them take the wheel:

Provided that you’ve discussed all the expectations with finances and logistics beforehand (which can be a big source of contention when said child wants to attend), let your child take the lead in the process of deciding where or what they want to enroll.  You may want to  visit campus on an accepted student event. (here are some tips on how to make the most of it). It’s good to have a family discussion on the pros and cons of each school being considered.  Ultimately, your kid, after doing their research and due diligence on their schools of choice, should be the decider – it is empowering for them, and puts the accountability for  success on them.

Best wishes to all!