In homes across the nation, March
Madness does not refer to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, but rather to the
more stressful, high stakes admissions process when students receive
notification as to whether they were accepted, rejected or wait listed by their
first choice schools.  Who got in and who did not? This roller coaster
of emotions is not just for kids.  Parents either feel elated or ashamed.  Some seeking shelter before the event even
occurs.  Families vow to stay close to
home primed and ready for their email notification to arrive.  Mailboxes are staked out for the requisite
letter that will follow in the mail, the
results all of which are coveted.  However, one doesn’t have to be a mind reader to
decipher the answers, you can tell by a simple read of body language as to whom is walking
with their head held high or skulking behind a large baseball cap.   

I remember the day vividly.  Notifications were to arrive via email around
mid-day and my daughter was given strict instructions by her school to shut
down her cell phone.  She was attending a
Bar Mitzvah service of a classmate at her temple school and the headmaster did
not want anything to detract from the coming-of-age celebration.  Both parents and children were sent emails in
advance with explicit directions for how this day should be handled.  No one was allowed to check their phone while
on campus during the service and there would be no speaking of said results at
the party which followed later in the evening. 
Everyone was on pins and needles. 
Confined to a sacred place helped for any last minute prayers and
pleading with a higher power.  Once off school campus, we
turned on our phones and held our breath.  I already knew the answer based on good
old-fashioned mom intuition.  My daughter
did not get accepted to her first choice school, but did get accepted to her
second.  And not because she didn’t write
a proper thank you, but more due to the fact that her first choice school was rigorous academically and she was probably better suited to a school with a more
nurturing environment. 

Nevertheless, I
felt her pain as she struggled to squelch back tears that were streaming
down her face. We lived around the corner from her first choice school and this
was where she had envisioned herself going since preschool. Needless to say, it
was a tough blow, but an important lesson in life’s disappointments she would
have to overcome many times in her future. 
As I share with the parents who send their children to me for interview
coaching and finally learned firsthand, your children wind up at the school that is the best fit for them. There is no voodoo magic that will
change that. Now, here’s the proper
protocol for what to do with all those acceptances, rejections and wait lists.

Prepare a Family Plan.  Since
email communications will be distributed on Saturday, parents make yourself available
to be around and present. If your children are engaged in activities, restrict
them from checking their phones at a party, sporting event, school function or
other public setting. This is a private moment. When the notification arrives, give
your children your undivided attention to address their feelings whether they
be elation or disappointment.  Allow them
space to process the situation before setting anything in stone. They may wish to sleep on it and visit the subject in the morning. Regardless of the result, vow to handle
yourself with grace and dignity and make sure your child follow’s suit. Both parents and child should write additional notes of thanks to every school regardless of the

Share Freely, But Do Not Brag or Ridicule.  Share your happy news freely with family,
but tread carefully with friends unless prompted.  When you do disclose your child’s results, speak
from the heart. While you may be very proud, try not to boast or brag.  In the same vein, don’t feel pressed to
divulge unhappy news. Frankly, it’s nobody’s business.  And by all means, do not ridicule, put down
or disparage your child. Show empathy and comfort them with encouraging words that
all will work out as it is supposed to.  Assure them that there is a perfect school for them and that they will be happy.

Be a Friend, Not a Gossip. 
Don’t start lobbing
calls to everyone you know to find out who got in where.  Do not corner, pester or provoke friends to
share with you their results and don’t be a blabbermouth sharing the results of third parties.  Resolve to be a good
friend. If a friend tells you information in confidence, keep that private information to yourself. 
Offer support and reassurance to those friends who seek it. 

Act Appropriately with Acceptances.  Congratulations, you’re in! This is not
the time to forget your manners. If your child plans to attend, notify the school immediately and express your enthusiasm with a note of acceptance to the Admissions Director. If they decide to turn down the acceptance, disclose
your decision as soon as possible to allow a space to become available for the next
person on the wait list. 

Deal Tactfully with Rejections.  Do not let hurt feelings dictate your
actions. Realize that this is not a personal attack on you or your child’s character or capability.  It is simply a decline.  Rise above the emotional level and write a sincere note of
thanks to admissions expressing how grateful you are for having had the experience. You never know if a decline for the moment may transform into an acceptance down the

Make the Most of Wait Lists. 
Getting on the wait list is a good thing and often results in a bonafide space becoming available before the start of the school year. Seal
your child’s spot at the top of the list by sending a thank you note to the Admissions Director restating their wishes to attend.  A school
where they were previously wait listed may turn their decision around based
on your thoughtful and honest prose. 

Write Extra Notes of Thanks. Express gratitude to those who helped you along the way with an additional notes of thanks or a small token of appreciation to any other
friends, family or colleagues who acted kindly on your behalf or wrote a letter
of recommendation to help your child get into a school. This acknowledgment
will be appreciated and noted for years to come.