It’s getting to be spring time and many Seniors in High School are getting very nervous and anxious. When they see the mail their hearts start to beat faster and they are excited and afraid at the same time. They are having that reaction because in the mail could be an acceptance letter or a denial letter from one of the colleges they applied to. Yes it is that time of year when colleges send out their acceptance and denial letters. Many Seniors have been working their entire time in High School so they could attend a certain college. Where they are accepted or not accepted will have a major impact on their lives. Therefore, you can understand why they are so nervous.

Parents think back to when you were a Senior in High School and waiting for your acceptance letter and how anxious you felt. If you did not apply to a college, think about how you felt when you heard the other students talk about where they have been accepted and you had nothing to say. It is a very difficult time for the Seniors who have applied for colleges and for those students who have decided to go to community college or not to go college at all. So parents your teenagers who are Seniors in High School can use your support right now.

It may help to understand the environment your teens are facing in High School. Most high schools are very competitive. Where you apply and where you are accepted has a great deal to do with your status at school and the respect you receive from other student. Students applying to UC Berkely or USC get more respect than someone applying for a California State College such as Sacramento State and definitely more respect than someone going to community college. Since our area has a number of affluent families this competition is very strong in our area and has a severe impact on students. I have worked with students capable of going to Harvard, but due to family finances they can only afford to attend community college. Many of these students feel like they are less than the other students. I explain to them that where they go to college does not define them as a person. What defines them is what they do with their lives. Regardless of what college they start at they can always follow their dreams. Maybe their dream may change a long the way, but that is how little works.

Parents if you are wondering how to help your Senior help them understand where they attend college does not define them. Also since they will be spending a majority of their life their for the next four years, it’s important they go somewhere they enjoy not because of the name. As parents you can do a great deal to reinforce this idea. You can let them know the only thing you care about is that they are going to a school where they will be happy. The name of the school is not the priority. Their happiness is the priority.

As for how they handle the name dropping at school, remind them those kids do not determine their happiness. Also after graduation they will probably not even see most of the kids in their senior class. Therefore, don’t judge themselves or choices based on people who will have little to know long term impact on their life. Base their value on their choices about the future and how they handle themselves. Also if someone is going to negatively judge them about their choice then maybe they are not a friend and if that is the situation, do not worry about their opinions.

Finally, you know this is a big moment in your teenager’s life. For some teens things will go as planed and for others it will be a devastating road. You cannot control which road your teen will be faced with when they receive those letters. However, you can be there and support your child as they go through this emotional roller coaster. Even if things go as planned there are bound to be ups and downs. Regardless of if they are accepted or not, let them know how proud you are of them and how much you love them. If they are denied, discuss how they can handle the disappointment and allow them time to process what has occurred. If they are accepted, discuss how they will celebrate and allow them time to process what has just occurred. The main point is no matter what be there for your teenager and love them.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating teenagers and children. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website at or his Facebook page at

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