When You Wake Up At 3AM and Think: “What if my kid doesn’t get in anywhere?”

When You Wake Up At 3AM and Think:

“What if my kid doesn’t get in anywhere?”

by Rebecca Georgenes

Senior College Counselor

Road To College 

Former Admission Officer at Princeton University


This past weekend, a friend of mine came up to me and said, “Two weeks!  I’m not sure I’m going to make it through the next two weeks!” And it took me a moment to realize what she was talking about. My mind quickly raced through several scenarios. Was she ill? Was someone recovering from an operation? Was her husband traveling abroad and leaving her to care for the kids alone? Was she a tax accountant? And then I remembered:  She was waiting to hear where her son (who was already sitting on two deferrals from highly selective schools), would get in (or not) to colleges.  Just over a year ago, I remember being in her same position with my own son (who at this moment is living it up in Florida on Spring Break – I know this because in a moment of weakness, he confirmed me as his friend on Snapchat). And it did feel like this bizarre form of purgatory where I was powerless to impact the outcome. But this too will pass.


Most students get into a number of the colleges that they apply to. And before you know it, you will be trying to help with your own child’s decision-making process as they figure out where they want to enroll. (One mom once told me waiting to hear if her daughter would pick Brown or Middlebury was the hardest thing she had ever endured.  I quickly reminded her of a phone call we had had a few weeks earlier when she told me she was in the fetal position, waiting for college decisions to arrive).  But if your child is one of the few kids who does not get in to any schools there are still options.

1)   Gap Year:  This is a popular option these days.  I’m sure we will cover that in detail in a later blog. But you can design your own plan or work with an organization, and then reapply to colleges in the fall.

2)   PG Year: For a student who needs to beef up his/her academic profile, there is always the option of going to a prep or boarding school for a year.

3)   Community College or commuter school: While it might not feel so appealing at first, working really hard taking college courses and then applying again can be just what it takes to get in to the college of your dreams.  My own nephew got in to a number of colleges, but wasn’t eager to go to them. He took one semester of courses as a commuting student at UMass Lowell. Did really well.  And was admitted to Boston University for a January start! He is now living at BU as a second semester freshman, is in the school of his dreams, and barely remembers the personal struggle he went through when all his high school friends were leaving for college and he was commuting 1-hour each way Lowell.

4)   Guess what! There are still colleges that students can apply to!  And some are really quite good.  So all is not lost. College Simply has put together a comprehensive list by application deadline.  Your son or daughter could always start college at one of these schools with the possibility of transferring if he or she isn’t happy.


Good luck!  And go back to sleep.  It will all work out. 

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