It’s that time of year again. College acceptances are bringing shouts of joy. But if your kid gets a rejection letter, you’re going to have to deal with some disappointment and maybe some drama. Moms and dads, you need to be the grown-ups here. Let the kids have their feelings, and even rant and rave if they need to. Once they’ve gotten it out of their system, remind them that awesome applicants get rejected all the time: Steven Spielberg got rejected from film school at USC and UCLA. So there.
That said, having helped hundreds of families through this process, what I think is hardest to deal with is your child being put on a wait list. What does a wait list mean? Are they “just not that into you”? In fact, it’s probably more about trying to balance out a class. Maybe there were just too many accepted kids from New Jersey, or too many who chose a certain major. You’ll never really know – and the school won’t say.
In my opinion, college wait lists are far too large. They drag out the process, prevent closure, and give false hope to too many. Remember, colleges accept many more kids than they can take anyway, since some they accept will choose other schools. This “yield” is factored in, so they already have a good idea of how the class will be filled. Might an applicant get in off the wait list? Yes, but the more selective the school the more unlikely that is. If your child is waitlisted, get the facts. Visit www.collegeprowler.com and search for the school admissions statistics. For example, U Penn put 1,911 applicants on the wait list last year, and 1,494 students accepted a place on it. How many were enrolled from the list? 37! On the other hand, 1,467 students accepted a place on Boston University’s wait list, and 557 were enrolled.
There’s always hope, and the standard advice to accept a place on the list and send in any new and impressive accomplishments is fine IF you and your child also remain realistic. Choose another school and move on. If the wait list opens – and that might not be until mid summer! – see if that school is as alluring as it once seemed.