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No one enjoys rejection, but for teenagers that have taken the time and spent the energy applying to the college of their dreams, this news can be particularly crushing. Teenagers innately operate from an emotional standpoint. This is primarily due to the fact that they area of the brain (known as the pre-frontal cortex) that reigns rational thought, executive planning and impulse control is not yet fully developed. Hence, teenagers are forced to react to external stimuli using the amygdala to make decisions and problem solve. The amygdala is the area of the brain that is associated with impulses, emotions, aggression, and instinctive behavior. This directly influences how a teen will take the news of being rejected from college. If your teen does not get the news they were hoping for from their top-choice college, consider the following suggestions:

  • Do not detract from your teen’s experience: while it is entirely natural to feel disappointed when discovering the news of your teen’s college rejection, it is important to control your own reactions. 
  • Feel all the feelings: college rejection can feel deeply personal. Help your teen take time to acknowledge, feel, and move through whatever emotions he or she may be experiencing.
  • Keep things in perspective: remind your teen that disappointment often comes with an initial sharp stinging pain, that usually, with time, will begin to fade.
  • It’s their loss: without being dismissive, reassure your teen that the college is losing in this situation; it is the college’s loss, not your teenagers.  
  • Explore other options: help your teenager avoid succumbing to discouragement by reminding them that there is no perfect college and there is still plenty of time to discover other possibilities.

It is impossible to escape rejection at some point in life, whether it be rejection from college, or another kind of rejection. Nevertheless, according to The Wall Street Journal, “teenagers who face rejection will be joining good company, including Nobel laureates, billionaire philanthropists, university presidents, constitutional scholars, best-selling authors and other leaders of business, media and the arts who once received college or graduate-school rejection letters of their own.” Although it may seem like the end of the world to your teenager, facing rejection head-on can teach your teen many valuable lessons, including cultivating useful coping mechanisms for overcoming disappointment. 

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