5 Reasons to take another look at your 2nd choice colleges

Some of my favorite lyrics from a Rolling Stones song state a very simple truth:

You can’t always get what you want

But if you try sometimes, you just might find

You get what you need.

If you have a teenager in the house, they have probably learned this lesson long before the college application process. As you grow older (and hopefully wiser) you experience this reality in life and come to realize that those forks in the road often mean greater opportunities for growth and adventure. Your teen, however, might not be as open to this philosophy, especially when it comes to their college choices.

Here’s the good news, however. I have 5 very GOOD and LOGICAL reasons to take a another look at your 2nd choice colleges:

  1. Everything happens for a reason–How many times have we all said this to our children? There could be a dozen reasons why their 1st choice college didn’t offer them admission or enough financial aid to attend. Admissions counselors tell us that each application is a subjective process and they can’t admit everyone. While it might seem like a rejection to your teen, in reality it’s their decision that your student might not be a good fit for their college. Take that as a cue to move on and find the college that feels they ARE a perfect fit!
  2. In the light of day everything seems different–College choices are often made based on peer pressure, parent pressure and status. After all the hype and stress of applying, it’s easier to sit down and look at the choices your student made in a more objective light. The pressure of applying is now gone and all you need to do is thoughtfully evaluate those colleges that have offered admission. The ball is now in your court–you get to decide!
  3. A closer look might reveal a hidden gem–Take some time and diligently investigate the colleges further down on the list that have offered acceptance. Compare offers, visit their campuses again, talk to current students and be open to discovery. You never know what you might unearth in the process.
  4. Those other colleges on your list are more than sloppy seconds–Your 2nd and 3rd choice college made the list for a reason. Don’t look at them as sloppy seconds, but realize that they could have been your 1st choice all along. How many of us have passed over life choices, only to realize later that we discounted their value and missed out on amazing opportunities.
  5. What you NEED is always better than what you WANT–It’s true. We often want things that aren’t always the best for us. We teach our kids to pursue needs before wants; the same can be true for the college choices. Your teen may want an Ivy League logo on their vehicle, but what they need might be a small private university with smaller classes and individual attention.

Parenting a college-bound teen means you will be facing disappointment throughout the college admissions process. Use those opportunities to teach some life lessons that your student can take with them to college. If they learn these lessons before they leave home, college will be a much more enjoyable experience.


For 5 reasons why your 2nd choice college might be your BEST choice, visit my colleague Wendy David-Gaines’ blog (POCSMom). Wendy was a (POCSmom) Parent of a College Student and was once a pre-POCSmom as well. She likes to help parents de-stress during the college process and has written a book of stories and anecdotes to help parents see the lighter side of college. You can also subscribe to her FREE monthly newsletter for some great POCSmom tips

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One Response to “5 Reasons to take another look at your 2nd choice colleges”

  1. […] my colleague Suzanne Shaffer (Parents Countdown to College Coach) for 5 reasons to take another look at your 2nd choice colleges. Suzanne is a college prep expert and online college-bound “coach” helping parents navigate the […]