This article was originally published on Smart College Visit as part of my Parent College Coach tips. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I wanted to repost it.
A song by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, “Love the One You’re With”, brings me back to my teen years. Yes. It dates me. But it reminds me of a good piece of advice my mother once gave me: you can’t always get what you want, but what you need is often better.
This might be a strange parley into today’s tip, but it got me thinking about college acceptances and the inevitable rejections that often arrive. Students all over the country who applied regular admission are biting their nails waiting to hear from their first choice colleges. Will they be accepted? Will they be wait-listed? Or will the college they dreamed of reject their application and not offer admission.
What do you do when that happens? First you let your teen grieve, and maybe you grieve, and then you move on. If you crafted a good college list, there are some perfectly wonderful colleges on that list—they may not be the first choice, but they are often the best choice. Your student may not be “in love” with those other choices, but it might be time to love the one you’re with and move on.
Here are 5 good reasons to fall in love with your 2nd, or 3rd, or 4th choice college:
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.