What to remember when you open a college rejection letter

Emily Becker

It’s college acceptance season, which means YouTube and Facebook are overflowing with videos of teens crying, jumping, and wailing as they find out if they made it into their college of choice.

But what if you don’t get into the college of your choice? What if your son or daughter receives a letter that leads to disappointment?

To the Student Who Didn’t Get In

You planned your whole life around this one letter. You spent your entire school career preparing for this moment — months studying for the SAT, long hours participating in extracurricular activities, and working hard to keep your GPA at the top of your class.

So what now? If you don’t get into the college of your dreams, it’s easy to feel a little hopeless. All that hard work was for nothing, right? Not quite. God has another plan for you, and it’s way better than you could imagine.

Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” God has a plan for our lives, and He cares about the little things. He cares what school we go to, the people we meet, and what we set our desires on.

God has another plan for you, and it’s way better than you could imagine.

We have a way of making our future plans an idol. We focus on getting into our top school and rely on receiving that one letter. But what if, instead, we shift our focus to the God of the universe who cares deeply for us? What if we seek Him to guide our steps?

You still have so many gifts and talents, and God wants to work through you in ways you may not have even dreamed. Allow God to direct your steps, even when things don’t go according to plan.

To the Parent of the Student Who Didn’t Get In

When your child opens that letter and you see the disappointment cross her face, this is your chance to offer your love and support. First and foremost, tell your child how proud you are. This is a pivotal moment in life, and your teen already feels the weight of disappointment.

Our children need to know we love them because they are ours, not because of what they have done. That is how God loves us, and it is how we are called to love others. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Reassure your child that they have not disappointed you. Nothing they do could ever make you love them less, so let them know that.

Be the one to encourage your child to get back on his or her feet and trust in God’s “next” for his or her life. God has something else in store, and you should be excited about it!

Hold onto the hope that God has a plan for your child’s life, and you get to play a part in that adventure. Pray specifically for your child’s future, where he will go to school, what he will study, and that the Lord would come first in his life. Pray that your son or daughter will discover their gifting, given to them by God Himself (Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians 12).

So What’s Next?

You didn’t get into your top school, but that doesn’t mean your life is over. This is a great opportunity for new dreams. Begin to pray for what’s next after high school. Ask God to guide you to make the best decision, and then dream about the possibilities. Don’t limit yourself, and allow God to work through you. You never know what exciting plans the Lord has for you!

There’s a lot of pressure to decide which career path to take when you don’t even fully know who you are yet. In reality, so many students change their majors or even schools when they have a better sense of what the Lord has for their life.

As a recent college graduate, now I can clearly see the steps the Lord has directed me to take. I changed my major four times within my first two years of school. I panicked that I wouldn’t graduate on time because I didn’t take all those AP classes everyone else did in high school. My SAT score wasn’t even good enough to get into most schools in my state.

But the Lord led me to a school where I made lifelong friends, was challenged but encouraged by my professors, was able to travel to places I’d never been, and earn a degree I would never have chosen my senior year of high school. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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