How to Help Your Kid Deal with College Rejections

Posted by IPFW Admissions Team on 5/24/16 8:00 AM

College rejection letterIt’s a situation no parent wants to find themselves in. After months (or even years) of helping your child prep for the SAT, visit campuses, and wait by the mailbox, a letter from the last college on their list arrives—and it’s not the news you’d hoped for. Your kid has been rejected from every single college they applied to.

Don’t panic!

It can be heartbreaking to discover your son or daughter didn’t get into any of the colleges to which they applied, but it’s not the end of the world. You—and your student—have options.

Jana Gepfert, a guidance counselor at New Haven High School just outside of Fort Wayne, Ind., has advised hundreds of families trying to recover from complete college rejection. Gepfert shared the three most helpful next steps for steering your son or daughter in the right direction—and still help them go to college.


#1: Make Sure Your Child Has a Backup Plan

Have this conversation in the fall, when your kid is still applying to schools. Help him or her come up with a list of schools but encourage them to have a “break glass in case of admissions emergency” option on the list, too.


#2: Don’t Think of Any School, Including Community Colleges, as ‘Unacceptable’

Community colleges sometimes carry the stigma of being “for dummies,” or for the students who can’t get accepted anywhere else—but this just simply isn’t true.

Many community colleges have great programs for high-achieving kids, including valedictorians and students in the top percentile of their graduating class.

What’s more, community colleges can be an excellent gateway to a four-year institution, including the ones on your student’s list that didn’t work out this time around.

  • Every state college and university in Indiana has a reciprocal agreement with community colleges; if after two years your child has at least a C average, it’s an automatic acceptance into a stage college.
  • Every state school in Indiana has a pathway arrangement with the community colleges to help students matriculate into four-year institutions. If your child wants to go to Indiana University Bloomington, for example, there’s a plan to get them—and his or her college credits—transferred there after two years. For example, at IPFW and Ivy Tech, this is done through the Crossroads program via Student Success and Transitions.

Make sure to talk to your son or daughter about the misconceptions of community college—and if they do decide to start at one, don’t let them think it’s because they (or their school) are inadequate.


#3: Encourage Your Son or Daughter to Apply to a School with Rolling Admissions Deadlines, Like IPFW

Sign in front of IPFWRolling admissions run later into the calendar year, all the way up to when classes begin in August, which means your student could still apply to a school like Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) if none of their other choices work out.

Keep in mind, however, that while schools with rolling admissions have much later application deadlines, they may have earlier deadlines for scholarships and financial aid.


So what are the next steps? What’s the most immediate thing a parent should do in this situation?

“Make an appointment with a guidance counselor,” says Gepfert. A guidance counselor can help you and your student map out where you are and what your options going forward look like.

Also, consider applying to IPFW, a great local option that accepts students throughout the summer. Schedule an appointment to talk with your child’s guidance counselor about IPFW, or download the IPFW Viewbook to learn more. 

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Topics: Applying to College





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