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How to handle college rejections

Malcolm Gauld, author "College Success Guaranteed: Five Rules

Malcolm Gauld, author "College Success Guaranteed: Five Rules to Make It Happen" (Rowman & Littlefield, $14.95) offers advice for parents on how to comfort your child after a college rejection. Credit: iStock

Q. Can you suggest ways to comfort a child rejected from his or her dream college?

A. "If you really go after your dreams, you're going to experience a lot of rejection," says Malcolm Gauld, author of two advice books on college. "College Success Guaranteed: Five Rules to Make It Happen" was published in 2011; a follow-up, "College Success Guaranteed 2.0: Five Rules for Parents" is out next month (both Rowman & Littlefield, $14.95 and $16.95, respectively).

This is his advice:

-- Explain the system. Help teens understand that a school's decision isn't necessarily a reflection of the applicant; rather, it's the outcome of a complicated system.

-- Share your stories. Some students will take rejection personally, even if they accept the arbitrary nature of the process. Reassure students with your own stories of uncertainty and rejection, followed by success.

-- Teach flexibility. Convey the message that there is no one perfect school. A solid education and a fulfilling college experience can be found wherever the student matriculates.

-- Remind them that transferring is always an option. Students can be encouraged by the stories of famous transfer students, including Barack Obama, who started at Occidental College in Los Angeles and transferred to Columbia University in New York.

-- Keep your eye on the prize. Continually remind teens that the college they attend is less important than the adult they will become.

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