College Admission: Why Students Won’t Attend First-Choices

Many students who were headed to America’s private colleges are getting the shock of their lives: parents are saying “No.” College acceptance letters were received with enthusiasm by eager students waiting to hear from their number one choice college, only to be told by mom and dad that they can no longer afford what was once a sure thing.

For the first time this generation of high school students is hearing the word, “No.” And it’s causing a lot of heart-break. Imagine the student who was told since early childhood that hard work and good grades will guarantee that mom and dad will make any college possible, only to be told recently that you can’t attend your first-choice college which even offered a scholarship.

Reality is ugly, and the old mantra that “Life isn’t fair” is being heard loudly and clearly across the land. Several of my clients are telling me of their children’s anger for the position in which they find themselves. One student told me that her father broke his promise, even when he explained that the stock market had wiped out most of what he had saved for her college.

In a lame attempt to lessen her frustration, I indicated that her parents didn’t break their promise, that the people to whom they gave their money for safe-keeping for college broke their promise to your parents and to every other parent in America. My explanation fell on deaf ears. Now what? What’s a parent to do?

Parents need a new kind of thinking. The “outside-the-box” kind of thinking. State colleges. Community colleges. Canadian colleges. In a word, cheaper alternatives. About these alternative ways to pay for college.  Talented students are now applying to these colleges in droves, and for the student who feels life’s unfairness, here’s what you’ll find when you show up to the college that wasn’t your first or even second choice: the student sitting on your left was accepted to Yale and the one on your right was accepted to Cornell.

Bottom Line: Life is made up of choices, and the best lesson we can teach our kids is to explain why some choices can be great choices when they appear to be soooooo unattractive. “No” doesn’t have to mean a negative. It’s all in how you deal with your situation that really counts.

Next week’s topic: How To Graduate From College In 3 Years
Paul Hemphill is an author, speaker, and marketer. Visit his website at



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