Dealing with Early Decision Rejection

Posted by Randi Mazzella

As early decision, early action, and rolling admission results come in this month, it is a time of very mixed emotions. Students receiving acceptance letters will of course be happy, not to mention relieved. But for many more students who receive rejection letters, there will be sadness, disappointment, and doubt.

Lisa Sohmer, Director of College Counseling at the Garden School, says, “For many teens, this is the first time in their lives they have been judged and rejected publically. It can be a terrible disappointment and they need time to take a breath, cry, or be mad.”

How can parents help their teen deal with college rejection?

Give Them Time

Parents never want to see their children hurt and upset. But rejection does hurt and it is part of life. Teens need time to process their feelings and parents need to respect that and give their teen the space to heal. As involved and invested in a teen’s college process parents may be, they do need to remember that the rejection happened to the teen and not the parent. It is the teen’s disappointment and feelings that parents should focus on and not their own.

It is natural for parents to want to console their teen. But rushing in with pat platitudes, such as, “There are lots of great schools” or “Tons of people get rejected” may make a teen feel worse. These sentiments, though true, can come across patronizing and insincere. Christine K. VanDeVelde, college speaker and coauthor of the book College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step, explains, “Teens that have been rejected already feel victimized. They don’t need their parents to further this feeling by treating them like they are 11 years old.”

A better approach may be better to join the teen in some constructive anger. A parent saying, “This really stinks!” or “It’s their loss!” can actually be more empowering for teens than having a parent feel sorry for them. A friend of mine encouraged her daughter and her friends that got rejected from a certain school to get together and destroy the swag they had purchased from the university that had rejected all of them. Cutting up the sweatshirts and pendants was very cathartic and doing it together made all the teens feel less alone.

Take the High Road

In addition to being upset, teens that have been rejected from their first choice school may also be embarrassed to face their classmates especially if some are celebrating their acceptances. Many colleges send out their decisions on Friday evenings to avoid the frenzy but even so, by Monday morning, social media has ensured everyone in the school community knows who got in where and who didn’t.

Try to encourage your teen to take the high road and congratulate their peers who have been accepted. Don’t allow your teen to bad mouth other students—especially not on social media where everyone can see the comments. Parents themselves need to resist the urge to negatively gossip about students that got into the school their teen wanted. Belittling another student’s accomplishments may be hard to resist, but this behavior is unhelpful for both teens and their parents.

VanDeVelde asserts, “Even though this may be the first time a teen has been rejected, it won’t be the last. How to handle disappointment is a life lesson and parents have an opportunity to model appropriate behavior. Parents need to remind themselves the goal is not to raise a child who is a winner in college but a winner in life.”

Review Their College List and Their Application

After a few days recovering, it is important that students make sure that the rest of their applications are completed and ready to be sent in.

Hopefully students have completed majority of their other applications and just have to add some finishing touches. VanDeVelde says, “College admissions offices close for the holidays as do high school guidance staff. Most regular decision applications are due on January 1 so students who need to speak to these offices must do so before the winter break.”

It may be wise for students to review their college list and application. Sohmer explains, “Early decisions are not fortune telling but they are an indicator. Students should look at their college lists to make sure they are not too ‘top heavy’ and that their list makes sense given their grades, test scores, and activities.”

If a student thinks it will be helpful, they can call the admissions office of a college they have been rejected from and ask why. Says VanDeVelde, “Most colleges will not give a specific reason but if the student really thinks it would be helpful to know, it may be worth it to inquire.”

There is a College for Everyone

It is understandable that after being rejected, a student’s confidence may be shaken. But remember this is just one college of over 2,200 four-year institutions.

Famous journalists Meredith Viera and Katie Couric were both rejected by their first choice schools and went on to have very successful careers. VanDeVelde says, “Students get sold a bill of goods that there is one perfect place for them. But the truth is there are many perfect places and they need to keep that in mind as they go through the college process.”

Many teens that get rejected from their first choice college find out that it is the best thing that could have happened to them. Rebecca Bergman, a current college sophomore says, “I applied ED to an Ivy League school just to try and reach a little higher. The school was located in a city, which was not my scene, but I ignored that fact because it was such a prestigious school. After getting rejected, I realized that I probably would not have enjoyed going to school in that environment. I absolutely love the location of the school I attend and could not be happier.”

Randi Mazzella-profile-picture

Written by Randi Mazzella
Randi Mazzella is a freelance writer and mother of three from New Jersey. She is a Contributing Editor for Raising Teens Magazine and writes monthly for the blog Barista Kids.




ADVICE FOR THE YOUNG ARTIST: Five Survival Strategies for Applying to Art School

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Posted by Steven Vasquez Lopez

I started drawing as soon as I could hold a crayon: first, cartoons from TV and newspaper comics, and later, the music icons from Rolling Stone covers. I always wanted to pursue art, but I was concerned about creating a stable future for myself. As the first of my family to attend a four-year college, I felt I had to pursue a career that would be sensible and lucrative.

What I discovered surprised everyone: artists develop skills in critical thinking, creative problem solving, and visual communication that apply to countless “real-world” opportunities. Going to art school is not just a passion-pursuit; it’s a smart career move.

Here are five survival strategies to help you get through your art school applications:

  1. Debunk art school clichés. Building a case for an art school education can be intimidating. Look for resources that will help you understand your decision and talk it over with your family. Start with SFAI’s The Case for Art School, and then move on to IBM’s study, proving that creativity is the most important skill in the contemporary workplace.
  2. Do the research. Find out about a range of art schools and then narrow your list to a top ten and a top five. Gather as much information as possible by contacting the admissions teams at those schools, subscribing to mailing lists, and scheduling time to attend an open house or tour the campuses.
  3. Develop your portfolio. Take as many art and art history classes as you can. Explore options for summer study that will let you test-drive the college art experience, such as SFAI’s PreCollege Program.
  4. Focus on ideas. Art isn’t just about pretty drawings; it’s about communicating your ideas. Look for an art school that will push you both technically and conceptually. Developing critical thinking skills will help you in whatever career you choose.
  5. Research contemporary artists. Place yourself in a context of artists across time to better understand your interests and how to speak about them as you prepare a portfolio. Look at sites such as Contemporary Art Daily to help you get acquainted with the contemporary art world.

Going to art school is a big step, but if your experience is anything like mine, you will find that your investment pays off. At art school, I found validation from faculty and visiting artists, and I discovered an astounding peer community. I won awards and scholarships and received exhibitions, but I also learned how my failures transformed me and helped me grow. I found a community that supported and challenged me, and I created a life in the arts that engages my creativity and ideas, daily.

My final advice to you: Go for it.

Steven Vasquez Lopez was born in Upland, California, and currently lives and works in San Francisco, where he is Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions at San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). Lopez completed his MFA in Painting from San Francisco Art Institute in 2007, and received his BA in Studio Art from UC Santa Barbara in 2000. He has received many honors and awards, and is exhibiting in galleries and museums across the country. He is represented by Carl E Smith Gallery in LA.


Don’t Enjoy Being a Student? These 9 Tools Can Fix That!

School supplies on blackboard background ready for your design
School supplies on blackboard background ready for your design

Posted by Robert Morris

You have probably heard this statement many times before: “there is an app for everything!” If you are a student, you’ll find that this is true. You are fortunate enough to belong to a generation of students who don’t need to think about giving up when they encounter a problem. Start using the apps and websites listed below; your life will become much easier thanks to technology!

1. Unstuck

Are you stuck in one of those moments when everything seems impossible and you’re unable to study, write projects, or attend classes? This is the tool you need! Unstuck will ask you questions with one purpose: to motivate you to stay on track and stop procrastinating.

2. Kno Textbooks

This app, available for iPhone and Android, enables you to save tons of money on textbooks. You can find the materials you need in the form of an e-textbook, and annotate and highlight directly in the app. The content can be synchronized across multiple devices, and you can also share the notes with your classmates.

3. Rate My Professors

If you’re heading off to college and need to start thinking about your course schedule, the information available at this website will help you make the right selection. The professor who teaches the course is a very important factor for your overall success. When you see the ratings and comments provided by real students, you’ll get an insider’s perspective on what a class would look like.

4. 30/30

It’s not easy to create a schedule that balances work and rest in the most effective way, but the 30/30 system works well for most students. The task manager will organize your time into effective sessions of work and some break time in between. When you get used to the productivity system, your planning and self-monitoring skills will be boosted.

5. AP Flashcards

Flashcards seem like outdated studying equipment? This Android app will change your mind. You’ll find flashcards from different AP tests and save a lot of time that you would spend in taking notes and making cards. AP Flashcards offers pre-made cards for tests in biology, statistics, history, economics, languages and literature, geography, sciences, and government and politics.

6. Studious

You’ll find this app effective in many ways. First of all, it will silence your phone during classes, so you’ll never be embarrassed when your parents try to reach you several times in a row. Studious will also remind you of the test and homework due dates; and you can use the app to save notes as well.

7. iFormulas

When you get overwhelmed by the number of formulas you need to memorize, this is the app you should use. The featured categories include algebra, geometry, calculus, physics, chemistry, trigonometry, and electrical.

8. Power Nap

Taking power naps is important when you need to recharge your batteries before getting back to studying. You can enhance your power nap thanks to this app, which enables you to customize wake up graphics, wake up sounds, and other features.

9. The Homework App – Your Class Assignment Planner

With so much homework you get on a daily basis, it’s easy to lose track and forget to complete some of the tasks. This app will prevent that from happening. The convenient, visually appealing design will help you stay on schedule and complete all assignments on time.

Let’s face it: being a student is fun, but it’s not easy to manage all those responsibilities on your own. The tools listed above will turn you into a better achiever.

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Written by Robert Morris

Robert Morris is a freelance writer from NYC. He is currently working on his first YA novel.


How Important is College Size?

Written by Wendy Nelson

I took my middle daughter on a college visit yesterday to a regional university a couple hours away.  It was a structured visit day.  During the opening presentation, they put a lot of focus on the question, “How important is college size?”

The presentation broke down three categories of college size:

  • Megaversities – 10,000 + students
  • Medium-sized universities – 4,000 – 10,000 students
  • Small universities – under 4,000 students

The general thought for college size is that large = options and small = personal attention.  The university we were visiting is a medium-sized university with just over 5,000 students. Of course their argument was that medium-sized schools offer the best of both worlds and I do find a lot of logic in what they said.

A medium-sized university is large enough to offer a lot of options, but small enough that you don’t get lost in the crowd.  

A medium-sized university can offer small class sizes and personal attention, but they can also offer lots of degree programs, lots of clubs and activities and lots of other options for making the most out of the college experience.

This all sounded great to me.  Who wouldn’t choose a medium-sized university? Apparently, a lot of students. According to this medium-sized university’s presentation, this is the smallest category of colleges in the U.S.  In fact, a quick search on online showed me that out of over 2,000 schools in their database across the U.S., only 237 schools fall into the category of 5,000 – 9,999 students.

Despite all the selling of personal attention, my daughter says her top choice is still a school that falls on the large side of the “megaversity” category.

I think that college size is a category your student has to get right in order to be happy.

There is no “one size fits all” and students will gravitate towards the size that feels comfortable for them.  The only way to really understand this is through college visits.  In fact, overnight visits are the best for truly experiencing the feel of the school.  Make a point to visit schools of all sizes so your student can compare the differences.

Have your student start thinking about the right college size by asking these questions:

  • Which of my high school classes feel like the right size?
  • Do I have any classes that seem too big or too small?  If so, what don’t I like about that?
  • Is it easier for me to make choices when I have a large number of options or only a few options?
  • Is it important to me that lots of people know me by name?
  • Do I enjoy having a close relationship with my teachers?

One of the best ways for your student to understand how a college’s size will work for him or her is to talk to current or former students.  Ask them how they feel/felt about the school’s size.

Keep in mind that there are often many ways to make a large school feel smaller, but not many to make a small school feel larger.  If the school feels too small on the first visit, imagine how your student will feel about it after a few years on campus!


The Anti-Karma of College Admission


By College Admission Blog, Posted on Tue, 03/31/2015

dice1Thank you to Teen Life for featuring advice from Christine VanDeVelde in Evaluating College Choices:

If your teen has been accepted to several different colleges, first off, Congratulations! They should be very proud of this accomplishment. But now they need to determine which school they will ultimately attend.

How can teens evaluate their college options and determine which school is right for them?

Factors to Consider

Once your teen knows where they have been accepted, they need to compare each school and what it has to offer. A simple pros and cons list of each school can be very helpful.

Christine K. VanDeVelde, journalist and coauthor of the book College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step, says, “It has been several months since the teen submitted their application to the school. They need to determine whether each school still lines up with their original goals and whether in these past few months, any of their goals have changed.”

Financial aid packages are an important consideration. Think about all the costs involved – housing, travel, books, etc.

Learn More About the Colleges Being Considered

If you can, have your teen visit or re-visit the colleges they are considering.

VanDeVelde says, “If your teen has never visited the school, they must do so before committing. Many schools have programs to cover the cost of a visit if the student cannot afford the travel expenses.”

Lisa Sohmer, Director of College Counseling at the Garden School says, “Many colleges have Accepted Students Day where teens can meet other students considering the school. They can also meet professors and talk to students already attending the college.” Spend time in the student center and dining halls. Read the postings on the walls and bulletin boards – see if there are events going on that would interest you if you attended the school.

After acceptance letters go out, many schools start Facebook groups for prospective students. This can be another good way for your teen to get a feel for whether they will feel comfortable with the incoming students.

Teens Should Decide

While many parents today do play a strong role in the college application process, deciding where to go to school should ultimately be the teen’s decision.

If teens ask for an opinion, be honest but try not to influence their decision (unless it is a financial necessity, it which case, speak up). Ultimately it is the teen that needs to attend the school, so they need to own the choices. Says VanDeVelde, “There comes a point where the teen needs to be the judge. I advise teens not to talk to too many people. It’s not your parent’s decision or your boyfriend’s or counselor’s – it is your decision.”

Teens should try not to be influenced by peers. Students may let the decisions of fellow high school classmates factor into their own. Some teens may want to go to a college with many teens from their town while others may not want to go somewhere no one knows them. Sohmer says, “The reality is, even if many kids from your high school go to the college, you may never see them and the experience will be different.”

Making the Most of the College Experience

For many teens, the deciding factor comes down to a gut reaction. Sohmer says, “Students will be the most successful at a school they feel they can make a home for themselves.”

Regardless of how much time and energy teens put into their decision, there are many factors beyond their control (dorm assignments, classes, roommates, etc.) that can influence their college experience. It is up to the teen to remember why they chose the school and to seek out the things that interested them socially and academically. Says VanDeVelde, “College is filled with such great opportunities and friendships – it is up to teens to make the most of whatever college they choose to attend. Best advice? It’s not where you go, but what you do when you get there.”