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Rebecca Joseph Headshot

Making Lemonade Out of College Admissions Notifications

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All day today and yesterday, I have talked, emailed, and texted with teens and their parents about college decisions, many of which have cut the high school seniors to the core. Most have been admitted to several amazing colleges. Yet the pain of their rejections seems to prevail.

These are the parents and children that I have been speaking to all year about the unlikeness of their children getting into many of the schools on their lists. The college admissions process is more brutal than ever.

Selective colleges around the country experienced another dramatic increase in application numbers for the class of 2017, leaving even more room for rejections, the rejections of talented, spectacular students. Sadly, numbers don't lie. New York University apps went up 17 percent, Tufts University apps increased 11 percent, and the University of Chicago apps skyrocketed 20 percent. Public universities also saw record numbers of applications as the escalating price of college has driven students to apply to several more colleges than usual. The Ivy League admitted fewer students than ever, making other colleges even more competitive.

These stats didn't mean that their children shouldn't apply. It just meant they should have applied with their eyes wide open.

However, many parents, their children's rightful advocates, have held unrealistic expectations despite evidence -- statistical and qualitative -- that their children would most likely not get into some of the top colleges on their lists.

Yet, these high school seniors have outstanding choices. We need to help our high school seniors make some college acceptance lemonade.

One young lady I know got admitted to Wellesley College and the University of California, Santa Cruz. Another got into George Washington University and NYU-Poly, while another got accepted to Point Park University's Conservatory of Performing Arts and the University of Oklahoma's musical theatre program. These students have wonderful choices, and yet they are not as happy as they should be. They believe they should have had better options.

Those feelings are natural, temporarily. No one likes rejection. So it's our job to help guide and focus these students. They were admitted to wonderful college with great professors, amazing study abroad opportunities, specialized internships, and other programs that will make other students jealous. No college is so unique that attending it will limit a student's future, except maybe the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. And yet even clowns from different backgrounds make it into the Big Top.

These students have great options. The University of California Santa Cruz, for examples, allows students to conduct unique research projects with a team of professors on college retention rates. NYU-Poly offers students the ability to work in four cutting edge labs, while Point Park provides students with access to its Pittsburgh Playhouse with three student companies and 18 annual productions.

So go visit the colleges that want your children. Some will even fly your kids into visit for free, while others will offer merit scholarships. Help your seniors see how the colleges that admitted them will help them experience the joys of higher education in astonishing ways.

Yes, some students will go to community college -- by default. Others will plan to transfer from their four-year college from day one. These are students for whom I feel sorry, as we are not encouraging them to discover, imagine, and taste the lemonade in the colleges that have accepted them.

Now let's start our difficult, yet irreplaceable jobs as parents, mentors, and counselors. I make really tasty pink lemonade.