Q. How can parents help high school seniors deal with college rejections?
A. First, review with them the fact that most students aren't accepted at each school, says Darby Fox, a child and adolescent family therapist based in Manhattan. "It really is important that you remind them, especially if they are trying for a more competitive school. More students are being rejected than accepted."
Let the child be sad for a little while; let them be disappointed. "A couple of days," Fox says. "It's a sad thing. We want them to be sad but realistic. 'I'm disappointed, but what's next?' "
Then help your child look at which schools have accepted or wait-listed them. Contact any wait-listed schools to see how much of a shot being on their wait list actually offers, Fox says, so kids don't get their hopes up in vain. "Some schools wait-list a lot of kids; some schools have a really short wait-list and they really work from that," Fox says.
Make a list of pros and cons of all the schools where the student has been accepted. Look closely at the school's academic offerings -- sometimes the student's first choice doesn't offer the best program for his major, she says. Go back and visit the school again while kids are still on campus.
Remind students that success isn't determined by the school they attend but by their ability to overcome obstacles like a rejection, Darby says. Parents also need to be careful to manage their own disappointment. "The student's sense of rejection and lack of worth," Fox says, "will just be exacerbated if the parent shows any sign that they are disappointed."