How can students make the most of their second choice?

Admissions Decisions

Our counselors answered:

How can students make the most of their second choice?

Zahir Robb
College Counselor The Right Fit College

How can students make the most of their second choice?

Why was it your second choice in the first place? Don't forget that you liked this school enough to rank it this high and therefore, you should not be dismayed about the situation at hand. Colleges can be quite selective and remember that there are many more in the same boat as you. Be happy about your situation and make the most out of the school you will attend.

Rebecca Joseph
Executive Director & Founder getmetocollege.org

How can students make the most of their second choice?

Second choices are often best choices. I have worked with so many kids who don't get into their top, top choice college, BUT they NEVER look back. They realize their second choice has everything they want. They find great academic resources, amazing activities, and truly remarkable and fun friends. In fact, most second choice colleges are truly the top colleges for these students.

Megan Dorsey
SAT Prep & College Advisor College Prep LLC

How can students make the most of their second choice?

The best way is to remain somewhat detached until you receive notification of admission. But that rarely happens. I know it is difficult to let go of a dream school, but when students fall head-over-heals from their top choice, they will suffer heartbreak when rejected. It’s disappointing. How would you advise a friend to move on and get over a boyfriend or girlfriend who dumped them? Looking at your second choice school isn’t all that different. You need to let go of the rejection and begin looking for the positive factors in this new opportunity.

Jessica Brondo
Founder and CEO The Edge in College Prep

How can students make the most of their second choice?

- Start a spreadsheet! Keeping track of your expenses by keeping receipts and entering them into a spreadsheet will give you an idea of how much you are spending. You can divide it into what type of expenses too, so if you need to cut back you can see where you are spending the most money. - Get a mobile banking app. Nowadays, almost all banks have smartphone apps. If you have your own bank account and a smartphone, download your bank's app. It will give you quick access to your balance. Make sure you check it regularly, and you will see how you are doing moneywise. - Sometimes using cash is better. Instead of using your debit card for expenses, try only using it to withdraw cash and pay for everything that way. It will mean that you are dealing with a smaller amount of money at a time so you can see how quickly you spend it. It also makes money more real to you- by spending cash you can see exactly what you spend and it's not as emotionless as swiping a piece of plastic and getting whatever you want. Make sure you keep your receipts, though if you still want to maintain a spreadsheet!

Tira Harpaz
Founder CollegeBound Advice

How can students make the most of their second choice?

Many many colleges are just wonderful places and even if a school isn't your top choice, I can assure you that you can be happy at your second, third or even last choice school. Seize opportunities at the school you chose to attend, whether academic or extracurricular. Join groups that are inclusive, including faith-based groups or outing clubs, so that you gain friends with similar interests. Visit your professors during office hours so that you can take advantage of their knowledge and expertise. And don't look back and spend your time bemoaning the fact that you didn't get accepted to your first choice school.

Lora Lewis
Educational Consultant Lora Lewis Consulting

How can students make the most of their second choice?

If your initial college list was compiled appropriately, there shouldn't be a "second choice" school (or third or fourth choice). Every school on your list should be one where you'll be happy and receive an excellent education. If you did your homework before applying, be confident in your choices and know that you're headed off to a school that is an excellent fit for you. Let it become Your College right away. Buy a sweatshirt. Start networking with other incoming freshman. Go to the accepted students' day with an open heart and mind. It's up to you to decide what kind of college experience you'll have; commit to making it an amazing one.

Melanie Hayes
Educational Consultant Gifted/Talented

Second Best

If you look at your life's journey as a train that stops at many stations and allows you to get on and off any number of times, it can help you gain perspective about rejection. Your second choice may not be second best. There may be opportunities that arise at your second choice that may not have been possible at your first choice. That rejection letter can give you an opportunity to reevaluate your goals. Why did you choose your first choice school? What is it about your second choice that makes you feel it is not as good? What do you really want out of life? What are you looking for in a college? How many ways can you achieve your goals? I know many students who have received rejections and used that experience as an opportunity to regroup. I just spoke recently with a student who had been rejected two years ago because his GPA was not high enough. He decided to do the first two years of his college courses at a local community college. While there, he applied himself with absolute focus and finished his first two years with a 4.0 GPA. He also made connections with professors who shared his passion and was able to get sterling letters of recommendation from them. His professors also connected him with a professional opportunity in his field of study. With his newly acquired experience, connections, and resources, he reapplied to his first school of choice again and was accepted. He began coursework this fall and is loving the experience. I also know a student who was rejected from the only school she ever wanted to attend. She was devastated. We explored what it was about her first choice that made it so appealing. We listed all the qualities of that school and then began to look at other schools and compare them to her list. In the end we found several other colleges that were comparable and could give her similar experiences and opportunities as her first choice. She applied to three of those other colleges and was accepted at two of them. She is now a junior at the college she chose and is happily reporting the experience is fulfilling all of her hopes. Life is full of opportunities. Many of the best ones come from unexpected turns in our life's journey. So don't despair. Open yourself up to new possibilities. Look for hidden opportunities. Reevaluate your choices. It's not about better or best, it is about finding out how to make the most of any situation. Not being accepted at your first choice is not the end of the world. In fact, it may just be the beginning...

Joseph Tavares

How can students make the most of their second choice?

It's tough when you're rejected by a college you really wanted to go. Yet, I tell students they have 24 hours to feel bad about the situation, and then they need to dust themselves and realize the opportunity to find a perfect place to continue their education still exists. In terms of a strategy, I tell students to re-evaluate why they wanted to study at that school in the first place. From there, we figure out other possible colleges and universities that have similar characters and curriculum. Remember, going to college is a commitment to self-improvement and a launch pad to future personal and professional success. Don't let a speed bump ruin your journey!