5 Ways To Turn Students Disappointment into Action For Their Future

November 27, 2023
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For many high school students, the ultimate goal is to go onto a college after graduation. By the time senior year comes, many students have their hopes set on a particular school–wearing that school’s t-shirts, cheering on their sports teams, and visiting with the hopes of soon becoming part of the student body. Some have siblings and family who have attended the school. And many have friends they are excited to have join them on this next phase of life. 

Oftentimes, students who know where they want to attend college utilize the early application/decision option and apply to their top choice during the early fall months–all with the hope of getting the good news before the start of the winter holidays. There is a frenzy to get the essays and application materials completed and submitted just after the start of the school year. And for those who get acceptance letters telling them they have secured a spot to their college of choice, the rest of senior year is often much smoother sailing–with a reprieve from the application completion and waiting game. They can go into the mode of making plans with confidence about their college choice.

Students who do not get good news from colleges during this early round–or who may get into a college of choice but not get a financial aid package that makes it feasible for them to attend–can feel devastated that the future they’ve been envisioning might not come true. The uncertainty and disappointment from this experience can be paralyzing and demotivating for students. It is critical that students not let a “no” from a college derail their journey to a productive postsecondary next step. 

Counselors can be a powerful resource to help support students through the disappointment of not getting into the college of their choice. Use these tips to help motivate students to continue putting in the work and effort to find the next step that is a good fit for them. 

  1. Listen to understand and discern. Taking time to truly listen and connect with a student can be pivotal in the way they are processing the news. Actively listening conveys that you care about them and it allows you to better understand the details of the disappointment so you know how to best help them move forward. For some it may be about not being able to join friends at the same school, while others may have been excited about a specific program of study. And, still, others might feel like they have no other college option. By listening, you can learn the details of their situation and help them to make a plan that prioritizes preferences and needs specific to them.  
  1. Help increase students’ awareness of other options. It is essential that students do not see a rejection as an end point, but rather a bump in the road. Students’ knowledge about what other options are available to them is often limited. Help them to identify what other paths will lead them to an outcome they are excited about. You might share information about other colleges and universities that have similar qualities to the school they were hoping to attend or talk about community college programs that allow for an eventual transfer to a 4-year college. Providing students with other ideas for what their future could be allows them to move beyond the notion that a single, particular school is the only destination. 
  1. Share examples of other students who have had similar experiences. Receiving a letter of rejection from a college a student was excited to attend can feel incredibly isolating, especially as peers celebrate their news of acceptance. You might share positive stories about other students who didn’t get into their first choice school but ended up happy and in a good place after high school. You might even connect them with alumni who would be willing to talk and guide them. Providing models for students of others who have experienced the same set of emotions and circumstances can illuminate a path forward that feels hopeful. 
  1. Reframe the conversation. To help students feel less stuck, work to reframe the conversation about next steps around finding a good fit for them. A college or university that sent a rejection letter is obviously not the best fit for that student. You might even share that, while a student may be disappointed to be separated from friends or to attend a school that is different from others in their family, there are benefits to doing things differently. Offer some perspective on what a new experience might look like and the positive impacts it can yield. Work to empower them to chart a new path forward and to share their success with others along the way. 
  1. Help them to take action. Most importantly, it is vital that the disappointment does not stall progress or create a barrier to meeting other deadlines–many of which come quickly after the new year. Failure to apply on time or submit requisite documents can result in a student missing the opportunity to move on to college at the same time as their classmates. When working with students, take special care to highlight these important dates. Remind them of the bigger picture of their goals–to go to college not just go to a specific college–and connect these action items to making that a reality. And taking action can be an incredibly empowering way to move beyond feelings of helplessness and frustration. If you have concerns that a student might not follow through on plans, consider reaching out to their family and support system or connect them with other resources in the school or district. And when the other letters come from colleges and universities that were not a student’s first choice, help them to celebrate! Focus on the exciting future that awaits the student. And, applaud their resilience. Kind, enthusiastic words from counselors can set the tone for individual students and all who surround them.  

Changing the College Exploration Mindset

Though this cycle of students settling on a single college as their dream for the future is very common and typical, counselors can work to strategically embed the idea that there are many good fits for each student into college exploration and planning, beginning freshman year. In all conversations and college readiness sessions and activities, find ways to build in this message. And as the application process nears, help students to identify several colleges in a range, so that at least one school on their list hopefully becomes a viable option. This approach can both hopefully prevent disappointment and encourage students, from the start, to be thoughtful and reflective about why different schools might be a good fit for them. 

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For many high school students, the ultimate goal is to go onto a college after graduation. By the time senior year comes, many students have their hopes set on a particular school–wearing that school’s t-shirts, cheering on their sports teams, and visiting with the hopes of soon becoming part of the student body. Some have siblings and family who have attended the school. And many have friends they are excited to have join them on this next phase of life. 

Oftentimes, students who know where they want to attend college utilize the early application/decision option and apply to their top choice during the early fall months–all with the hope of getting the good news before the start of the winter holidays. There is a frenzy to get the essays and application materials completed and submitted just after the start of the school year. And for those who get acceptance letters telling them they have secured a spot to their college of choice, the rest of senior year is often much smoother sailing–with a reprieve from the application completion and waiting game. They can go into the mode of making plans with confidence about their college choice.

Students who do not get good news from colleges during this early round–or who may get into a college of choice but not get a financial aid package that makes it feasible for them to attend–can feel devastated that the future they’ve been envisioning might not come true. The uncertainty and disappointment from this experience can be paralyzing and demotivating for students. It is critical that students not let a “no” from a college derail their journey to a productive postsecondary next step. 

Counselors can be a powerful resource to help support students through the disappointment of not getting into the college of their choice. Use these tips to help motivate students to continue putting in the work and effort to find the next step that is a good fit for them. 

  1. Listen to understand and discern. Taking time to truly listen and connect with a student can be pivotal in the way they are processing the news. Actively listening conveys that you care about them and it allows you to better understand the details of the disappointment so you know how to best help them move forward. For some it may be about not being able to join friends at the same school, while others may have been excited about a specific program of study. And, still, others might feel like they have no other college option. By listening, you can learn the details of their situation and help them to make a plan that prioritizes preferences and needs specific to them.  
  1. Help increase students’ awareness of other options. It is essential that students do not see a rejection as an end point, but rather a bump in the road. Students’ knowledge about what other options are available to them is often limited. Help them to identify what other paths will lead them to an outcome they are excited about. You might share information about other colleges and universities that have similar qualities to the school they were hoping to attend or talk about community college programs that allow for an eventual transfer to a 4-year college. Providing students with other ideas for what their future could be allows them to move beyond the notion that a single, particular school is the only destination. 
  1. Share examples of other students who have had similar experiences. Receiving a letter of rejection from a college a student was excited to attend can feel incredibly isolating, especially as peers celebrate their news of acceptance. You might share positive stories about other students who didn’t get into their first choice school but ended up happy and in a good place after high school. You might even connect them with alumni who would be willing to talk and guide them. Providing models for students of others who have experienced the same set of emotions and circumstances can illuminate a path forward that feels hopeful. 
  1. Reframe the conversation. To help students feel less stuck, work to reframe the conversation about next steps around finding a good fit for them. A college or university that sent a rejection letter is obviously not the best fit for that student. You might even share that, while a student may be disappointed to be separated from friends or to attend a school that is different from others in their family, there are benefits to doing things differently. Offer some perspective on what a new experience might look like and the positive impacts it can yield. Work to empower them to chart a new path forward and to share their success with others along the way. 
  1. Help them to take action. Most importantly, it is vital that the disappointment does not stall progress or create a barrier to meeting other deadlines–many of which come quickly after the new year. Failure to apply on time or submit requisite documents can result in a student missing the opportunity to move on to college at the same time as their classmates. When working with students, take special care to highlight these important dates. Remind them of the bigger picture of their goals–to go to college not just go to a specific college–and connect these action items to making that a reality. And taking action can be an incredibly empowering way to move beyond feelings of helplessness and frustration. If you have concerns that a student might not follow through on plans, consider reaching out to their family and support system or connect them with other resources in the school or district. And when the other letters come from colleges and universities that were not a student’s first choice, help them to celebrate! Focus on the exciting future that awaits the student. And, applaud their resilience. Kind, enthusiastic words from counselors can set the tone for individual students and all who surround them.  

Changing the College Exploration Mindset

Though this cycle of students settling on a single college as their dream for the future is very common and typical, counselors can work to strategically embed the idea that there are many good fits for each student into college exploration and planning, beginning freshman year. In all conversations and college readiness sessions and activities, find ways to build in this message. And as the application process nears, help students to identify several colleges in a range, so that at least one school on their list hopefully becomes a viable option. This approach can both hopefully prevent disappointment and encourage students, from the start, to be thoughtful and reflective about why different schools might be a good fit for them. 

For many high school students, the ultimate goal is to go onto a college after graduation. By the time senior year comes, many students have their hopes set on a particular school–wearing that school’s t-shirts, cheering on their sports teams, and visiting with the hopes of soon becoming part of the student body. Some have siblings and family who have attended the school. And many have friends they are excited to have join them on this next phase of life. 

Oftentimes, students who know where they want to attend college utilize the early application/decision option and apply to their top choice during the early fall months–all with the hope of getting the good news before the start of the winter holidays. There is a frenzy to get the essays and application materials completed and submitted just after the start of the school year. And for those who get acceptance letters telling them they have secured a spot to their college of choice, the rest of senior year is often much smoother sailing–with a reprieve from the application completion and waiting game. They can go into the mode of making plans with confidence about their college choice.

Students who do not get good news from colleges during this early round–or who may get into a college of choice but not get a financial aid package that makes it feasible for them to attend–can feel devastated that the future they’ve been envisioning might not come true. The uncertainty and disappointment from this experience can be paralyzing and demotivating for students. It is critical that students not let a “no” from a college derail their journey to a productive postsecondary next step. 

Counselors can be a powerful resource to help support students through the disappointment of not getting into the college of their choice. Use these tips to help motivate students to continue putting in the work and effort to find the next step that is a good fit for them. 

  1. Listen to understand and discern. Taking time to truly listen and connect with a student can be pivotal in the way they are processing the news. Actively listening conveys that you care about them and it allows you to better understand the details of the disappointment so you know how to best help them move forward. For some it may be about not being able to join friends at the same school, while others may have been excited about a specific program of study. And, still, others might feel like they have no other college option. By listening, you can learn the details of their situation and help them to make a plan that prioritizes preferences and needs specific to them.  
  1. Help increase students’ awareness of other options. It is essential that students do not see a rejection as an end point, but rather a bump in the road. Students’ knowledge about what other options are available to them is often limited. Help them to identify what other paths will lead them to an outcome they are excited about. You might share information about other colleges and universities that have similar qualities to the school they were hoping to attend or talk about community college programs that allow for an eventual transfer to a 4-year college. Providing students with other ideas for what their future could be allows them to move beyond the notion that a single, particular school is the only destination. 
  1. Share examples of other students who have had similar experiences. Receiving a letter of rejection from a college a student was excited to attend can feel incredibly isolating, especially as peers celebrate their news of acceptance. You might share positive stories about other students who didn’t get into their first choice school but ended up happy and in a good place after high school. You might even connect them with alumni who would be willing to talk and guide them. Providing models for students of others who have experienced the same set of emotions and circumstances can illuminate a path forward that feels hopeful. 
  1. Reframe the conversation. To help students feel less stuck, work to reframe the conversation about next steps around finding a good fit for them. A college or university that sent a rejection letter is obviously not the best fit for that student. You might even share that, while a student may be disappointed to be separated from friends or to attend a school that is different from others in their family, there are benefits to doing things differently. Offer some perspective on what a new experience might look like and the positive impacts it can yield. Work to empower them to chart a new path forward and to share their success with others along the way. 
  1. Help them to take action. Most importantly, it is vital that the disappointment does not stall progress or create a barrier to meeting other deadlines–many of which come quickly after the new year. Failure to apply on time or submit requisite documents can result in a student missing the opportunity to move on to college at the same time as their classmates. When working with students, take special care to highlight these important dates. Remind them of the bigger picture of their goals–to go to college not just go to a specific college–and connect these action items to making that a reality. And taking action can be an incredibly empowering way to move beyond feelings of helplessness and frustration. If you have concerns that a student might not follow through on plans, consider reaching out to their family and support system or connect them with other resources in the school or district. And when the other letters come from colleges and universities that were not a student’s first choice, help them to celebrate! Focus on the exciting future that awaits the student. And, applaud their resilience. Kind, enthusiastic words from counselors can set the tone for individual students and all who surround them.  

Changing the College Exploration Mindset

Though this cycle of students settling on a single college as their dream for the future is very common and typical, counselors can work to strategically embed the idea that there are many good fits for each student into college exploration and planning, beginning freshman year. In all conversations and college readiness sessions and activities, find ways to build in this message. And as the application process nears, help students to identify several colleges in a range, so that at least one school on their list hopefully becomes a viable option. This approach can both hopefully prevent disappointment and encourage students, from the start, to be thoughtful and reflective about why different schools might be a good fit for them. 

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For many high school students, the ultimate goal is to go onto a college after graduation. By the time senior year comes, many students have their hopes set on a particular school–wearing that school’s t-shirts, cheering on their sports teams, and visiting with the hopes of soon becoming part of the student body. Some have siblings and family who have attended the school. And many have friends they are excited to have join them on this next phase of life. 

Oftentimes, students who know where they want to attend college utilize the early application/decision option and apply to their top choice during the early fall months–all with the hope of getting the good news before the start of the winter holidays. There is a frenzy to get the essays and application materials completed and submitted just after the start of the school year. And for those who get acceptance letters telling them they have secured a spot to their college of choice, the rest of senior year is often much smoother sailing–with a reprieve from the application completion and waiting game. They can go into the mode of making plans with confidence about their college choice.

Students who do not get good news from colleges during this early round–or who may get into a college of choice but not get a financial aid package that makes it feasible for them to attend–can feel devastated that the future they’ve been envisioning might not come true. The uncertainty and disappointment from this experience can be paralyzing and demotivating for students. It is critical that students not let a “no” from a college derail their journey to a productive postsecondary next step. 

Counselors can be a powerful resource to help support students through the disappointment of not getting into the college of their choice. Use these tips to help motivate students to continue putting in the work and effort to find the next step that is a good fit for them. 

  1. Listen to understand and discern. Taking time to truly listen and connect with a student can be pivotal in the way they are processing the news. Actively listening conveys that you care about them and it allows you to better understand the details of the disappointment so you know how to best help them move forward. For some it may be about not being able to join friends at the same school, while others may have been excited about a specific program of study. And, still, others might feel like they have no other college option. By listening, you can learn the details of their situation and help them to make a plan that prioritizes preferences and needs specific to them.  
  1. Help increase students’ awareness of other options. It is essential that students do not see a rejection as an end point, but rather a bump in the road. Students’ knowledge about what other options are available to them is often limited. Help them to identify what other paths will lead them to an outcome they are excited about. You might share information about other colleges and universities that have similar qualities to the school they were hoping to attend or talk about community college programs that allow for an eventual transfer to a 4-year college. Providing students with other ideas for what their future could be allows them to move beyond the notion that a single, particular school is the only destination. 
  1. Share examples of other students who have had similar experiences. Receiving a letter of rejection from a college a student was excited to attend can feel incredibly isolating, especially as peers celebrate their news of acceptance. You might share positive stories about other students who didn’t get into their first choice school but ended up happy and in a good place after high school. You might even connect them with alumni who would be willing to talk and guide them. Providing models for students of others who have experienced the same set of emotions and circumstances can illuminate a path forward that feels hopeful. 
  1. Reframe the conversation. To help students feel less stuck, work to reframe the conversation about next steps around finding a good fit for them. A college or university that sent a rejection letter is obviously not the best fit for that student. You might even share that, while a student may be disappointed to be separated from friends or to attend a school that is different from others in their family, there are benefits to doing things differently. Offer some perspective on what a new experience might look like and the positive impacts it can yield. Work to empower them to chart a new path forward and to share their success with others along the way. 
  1. Help them to take action. Most importantly, it is vital that the disappointment does not stall progress or create a barrier to meeting other deadlines–many of which come quickly after the new year. Failure to apply on time or submit requisite documents can result in a student missing the opportunity to move on to college at the same time as their classmates. When working with students, take special care to highlight these important dates. Remind them of the bigger picture of their goals–to go to college not just go to a specific college–and connect these action items to making that a reality. And taking action can be an incredibly empowering way to move beyond feelings of helplessness and frustration. If you have concerns that a student might not follow through on plans, consider reaching out to their family and support system or connect them with other resources in the school or district. And when the other letters come from colleges and universities that were not a student’s first choice, help them to celebrate! Focus on the exciting future that awaits the student. And, applaud their resilience. Kind, enthusiastic words from counselors can set the tone for individual students and all who surround them.  

Changing the College Exploration Mindset

Though this cycle of students settling on a single college as their dream for the future is very common and typical, counselors can work to strategically embed the idea that there are many good fits for each student into college exploration and planning, beginning freshman year. In all conversations and college readiness sessions and activities, find ways to build in this message. And as the application process nears, help students to identify several colleges in a range, so that at least one school on their list hopefully becomes a viable option. This approach can both hopefully prevent disappointment and encourage students, from the start, to be thoughtful and reflective about why different schools might be a good fit for them. 

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For many high school students, the ultimate goal is to go onto a college after graduation. By the time senior year comes, many students have their hopes set on a particular school–wearing that school’s t-shirts, cheering on their sports teams, and visiting with the hopes of soon becoming part of the student body. Some have siblings and family who have attended the school. And many have friends they are excited to have join them on this next phase of life. 

Oftentimes, students who know where they want to attend college utilize the early application/decision option and apply to their top choice during the early fall months–all with the hope of getting the good news before the start of the winter holidays. There is a frenzy to get the essays and application materials completed and submitted just after the start of the school year. And for those who get acceptance letters telling them they have secured a spot to their college of choice, the rest of senior year is often much smoother sailing–with a reprieve from the application completion and waiting game. They can go into the mode of making plans with confidence about their college choice.

Students who do not get good news from colleges during this early round–or who may get into a college of choice but not get a financial aid package that makes it feasible for them to attend–can feel devastated that the future they’ve been envisioning might not come true. The uncertainty and disappointment from this experience can be paralyzing and demotivating for students. It is critical that students not let a “no” from a college derail their journey to a productive postsecondary next step. 

Counselors can be a powerful resource to help support students through the disappointment of not getting into the college of their choice. Use these tips to help motivate students to continue putting in the work and effort to find the next step that is a good fit for them. 

  1. Listen to understand and discern. Taking time to truly listen and connect with a student can be pivotal in the way they are processing the news. Actively listening conveys that you care about them and it allows you to better understand the details of the disappointment so you know how to best help them move forward. For some it may be about not being able to join friends at the same school, while others may have been excited about a specific program of study. And, still, others might feel like they have no other college option. By listening, you can learn the details of their situation and help them to make a plan that prioritizes preferences and needs specific to them.  
  1. Help increase students’ awareness of other options. It is essential that students do not see a rejection as an end point, but rather a bump in the road. Students’ knowledge about what other options are available to them is often limited. Help them to identify what other paths will lead them to an outcome they are excited about. You might share information about other colleges and universities that have similar qualities to the school they were hoping to attend or talk about community college programs that allow for an eventual transfer to a 4-year college. Providing students with other ideas for what their future could be allows them to move beyond the notion that a single, particular school is the only destination. 
  1. Share examples of other students who have had similar experiences. Receiving a letter of rejection from a college a student was excited to attend can feel incredibly isolating, especially as peers celebrate their news of acceptance. You might share positive stories about other students who didn’t get into their first choice school but ended up happy and in a good place after high school. You might even connect them with alumni who would be willing to talk and guide them. Providing models for students of others who have experienced the same set of emotions and circumstances can illuminate a path forward that feels hopeful. 
  1. Reframe the conversation. To help students feel less stuck, work to reframe the conversation about next steps around finding a good fit for them. A college or university that sent a rejection letter is obviously not the best fit for that student. You might even share that, while a student may be disappointed to be separated from friends or to attend a school that is different from others in their family, there are benefits to doing things differently. Offer some perspective on what a new experience might look like and the positive impacts it can yield. Work to empower them to chart a new path forward and to share their success with others along the way. 
  1. Help them to take action. Most importantly, it is vital that the disappointment does not stall progress or create a barrier to meeting other deadlines–many of which come quickly after the new year. Failure to apply on time or submit requisite documents can result in a student missing the opportunity to move on to college at the same time as their classmates. When working with students, take special care to highlight these important dates. Remind them of the bigger picture of their goals–to go to college not just go to a specific college–and connect these action items to making that a reality. And taking action can be an incredibly empowering way to move beyond feelings of helplessness and frustration. If you have concerns that a student might not follow through on plans, consider reaching out to their family and support system or connect them with other resources in the school or district. And when the other letters come from colleges and universities that were not a student’s first choice, help them to celebrate! Focus on the exciting future that awaits the student. And, applaud their resilience. Kind, enthusiastic words from counselors can set the tone for individual students and all who surround them.  

Changing the College Exploration Mindset

Though this cycle of students settling on a single college as their dream for the future is very common and typical, counselors can work to strategically embed the idea that there are many good fits for each student into college exploration and planning, beginning freshman year. In all conversations and college readiness sessions and activities, find ways to build in this message. And as the application process nears, help students to identify several colleges in a range, so that at least one school on their list hopefully becomes a viable option. This approach can both hopefully prevent disappointment and encourage students, from the start, to be thoughtful and reflective about why different schools might be a good fit for them. 

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For many high school students, the ultimate goal is to go onto a college after graduation. By the time senior year comes, many students have their hopes set on a particular school–wearing that school’s t-shirts, cheering on their sports teams, and visiting with the hopes of soon becoming part of the student body. Some have siblings and family who have attended the school. And many have friends they are excited to have join them on this next phase of life. 

Oftentimes, students who know where they want to attend college utilize the early application/decision option and apply to their top choice during the early fall months–all with the hope of getting the good news before the start of the winter holidays. There is a frenzy to get the essays and application materials completed and submitted just after the start of the school year. And for those who get acceptance letters telling them they have secured a spot to their college of choice, the rest of senior year is often much smoother sailing–with a reprieve from the application completion and waiting game. They can go into the mode of making plans with confidence about their college choice.

Students who do not get good news from colleges during this early round–or who may get into a college of choice but not get a financial aid package that makes it feasible for them to attend–can feel devastated that the future they’ve been envisioning might not come true. The uncertainty and disappointment from this experience can be paralyzing and demotivating for students. It is critical that students not let a “no” from a college derail their journey to a productive postsecondary next step. 

Counselors can be a powerful resource to help support students through the disappointment of not getting into the college of their choice. Use these tips to help motivate students to continue putting in the work and effort to find the next step that is a good fit for them. 

  1. Listen to understand and discern. Taking time to truly listen and connect with a student can be pivotal in the way they are processing the news. Actively listening conveys that you care about them and it allows you to better understand the details of the disappointment so you know how to best help them move forward. For some it may be about not being able to join friends at the same school, while others may have been excited about a specific program of study. And, still, others might feel like they have no other college option. By listening, you can learn the details of their situation and help them to make a plan that prioritizes preferences and needs specific to them.  
  1. Help increase students’ awareness of other options. It is essential that students do not see a rejection as an end point, but rather a bump in the road. Students’ knowledge about what other options are available to them is often limited. Help them to identify what other paths will lead them to an outcome they are excited about. You might share information about other colleges and universities that have similar qualities to the school they were hoping to attend or talk about community college programs that allow for an eventual transfer to a 4-year college. Providing students with other ideas for what their future could be allows them to move beyond the notion that a single, particular school is the only destination. 
  1. Share examples of other students who have had similar experiences. Receiving a letter of rejection from a college a student was excited to attend can feel incredibly isolating, especially as peers celebrate their news of acceptance. You might share positive stories about other students who didn’t get into their first choice school but ended up happy and in a good place after high school. You might even connect them with alumni who would be willing to talk and guide them. Providing models for students of others who have experienced the same set of emotions and circumstances can illuminate a path forward that feels hopeful. 
  1. Reframe the conversation. To help students feel less stuck, work to reframe the conversation about next steps around finding a good fit for them. A college or university that sent a rejection letter is obviously not the best fit for that student. You might even share that, while a student may be disappointed to be separated from friends or to attend a school that is different from others in their family, there are benefits to doing things differently. Offer some perspective on what a new experience might look like and the positive impacts it can yield. Work to empower them to chart a new path forward and to share their success with others along the way. 
  1. Help them to take action. Most importantly, it is vital that the disappointment does not stall progress or create a barrier to meeting other deadlines–many of which come quickly after the new year. Failure to apply on time or submit requisite documents can result in a student missing the opportunity to move on to college at the same time as their classmates. When working with students, take special care to highlight these important dates. Remind them of the bigger picture of their goals–to go to college not just go to a specific college–and connect these action items to making that a reality. And taking action can be an incredibly empowering way to move beyond feelings of helplessness and frustration. If you have concerns that a student might not follow through on plans, consider reaching out to their family and support system or connect them with other resources in the school or district. And when the other letters come from colleges and universities that were not a student’s first choice, help them to celebrate! Focus on the exciting future that awaits the student. And, applaud their resilience. Kind, enthusiastic words from counselors can set the tone for individual students and all who surround them.  

Changing the College Exploration Mindset

Though this cycle of students settling on a single college as their dream for the future is very common and typical, counselors can work to strategically embed the idea that there are many good fits for each student into college exploration and planning, beginning freshman year. In all conversations and college readiness sessions and activities, find ways to build in this message. And as the application process nears, help students to identify several colleges in a range, so that at least one school on their list hopefully becomes a viable option. This approach can both hopefully prevent disappointment and encourage students, from the start, to be thoughtful and reflective about why different schools might be a good fit for them.