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20 Questions

In all our years guiding families through the sometimes agonizing process of college admissions, certain questions pop up over and over again.  So, we've collected 20 of the most frequently asked questions and published here the highlights of our most common responses. 

Remember, as we do, that no one is typical.


The Process

Can you judge the letter by its cover?

No. 90+% of kids get their acceptances by e-mail. The paperwork comes later or it also arrives by e-mail.

How do you help your kids handle rejection letters?
Tell them the truth. The college thought they needed OTHER applicants to
make up their idea of a strong entering class. There's NOTHING in that
letter that says you were in the bottom one-eighth of the applicant pool who
weren't qualified. And admissions people are human. They could have missed
your child's potential to contribute to campus. Why not go where the
admissions people saw the fit right away? The places where your high school
friends (or, be honest, your rivals) are going is the worst guide as to
where you should be going!


First, ask why. This can happen to any qualified kid anywhere. Find out if it's a set of accidents that led it to happen everywhere. If there is any question of your kid's maturity (and you'll know) plan a gap year with some major growth experiences and reapply next year. The colleges love this. Your kid's oboe/tennis racket or fluency in Hebrew may be just what they need next year.  If you have to go this fall, look at large state universities. Most have rolling admissions and many were the back-up schools for kids who didn't decide until May 1. Many of them will be looking at applications until mid-July. Does your school need to be small and private? They have the hardest time gauging how many kids to admit. Look at the list of private colleges that are reporting open spots on campus. On May 2, it'll be posted online at, the National Association of College Admissions Counselors. You'll be surprised at the familiar names that you find there.

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