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The Dream Denied

How to manage the disappointment when your first choice school rejects your child.

This is the time of year students spend on the shadow trail. It’s also the time when one school usually emerges as a top choice for both the student and parents. So now is the perfect time to start preparing for the possibility that your first choice school does not accept your child.

Admission consultants strongly encourage families to apply to multiple schools; usually, three or more to ensure an eyes wide open approach and to hone in on what is the best match. They also advise families to never put all their eggs in the basket of one school. Nevertheless, students and even parents get fixated.

The moment of truth. The first Friday in March. It’s 4:48 PM and you login to your first choice school’s admission portal and proceed to hit refresh for 12 minutes.

And then!

After careful consideration…
We regret to inform you…

Words. Of. Death!!!

Here are FIVE tips to cope with being denied by your first choice school.

1. Prepare – Leading up to this moment; you should be coaching your child to understand that there are no guarantees in life (you should be coaching yourself as well). Depending on his age, this is easier said than done. With young children, never refer to any school as ‘your new school’ or ‘the school you will be going to next year’ until it is set in stone. This way if he is rejected, the impact will be lessened.

2. Celebrate the Acceptances: After the disappointing decision from school #1, you scroll over to the other schools’ portals and see:

We are pleased to inform you…
Congratulations…

You did it! Getting accepted to competitive private schools is no easy feat. Go out and celebrate. It’s Friday night after all. Go out to your daughter’s favorite restaurant, and don’t skimp on the dessert.

3. It’s Probably for the Best – Schools know what they are looking for in applicants. If your child is an “acceptable” student, there’s likely a reason there is likely a reason he was rejected. While you thought it was a good fit, the school didn’t, and they’ve been doing this a lot more and longer than you have.

4. Keep your Child Out of the Weeds – While you were not accepted to your first choice school, you may have been put on the waitlist. Sometimes this can feel even worse. It’s purgatory for those waiting months, holding out hope that they will get that call in August. DO NOT involve your child. You can tell her that she’s been waitlisted, but if this is a top-notch school, the likelihood of your daughter coming off the list is slim to none. One tip is to contact the school to see where your child is on the waitlist. If she is indeed at or near the top, share that with your kiddo. But be realistic, the chance of wearing their sweater on campus next fall is minuscule.

5. Start again – This one is hard, but if through the entire process your top choice school was so polarizing because the other schools you applied to fell flat, start over. One great thing about going through the admission process is you learn what you value and what setting might be best for your child. News flash: many private schools still have openings to fill well after admission season is over. Do a little research to see what schools might match your child best and give them a call, or use Who’s Got Spots like a boss!

I hope this has been helpful. If you have any additional tips, please leave comments below.

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