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College Acceptance and Rejection: Helping Your Student Cope

The time has finally arrived. Your student has started receiving notifications from his or her chosen colleges that carry good news or not so good news. As your student learns whether he or she has been accepted or rejected by colleges, here are some tips for helping your student cope.

Handling Acceptances

Acceptances mean your student is going to college—somewhere. If the acceptances are from any of your student’s top choice schools, then nix any applications your student may be working on, especially if they’re to “safety” schools. Save money on unnecessary application fees.

As you wait for the acceptance letters to trickle in, here’s how to fill the time:

  1. Make campus visits. Your senior will look at a college differently now that he or she knows attending it is a possibility. Check each college’s website for accepted students tour dates.
  2. Complete the Free Student Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). Getting the FAFSA done on time guarantees your child the best chance of being awarded whatever scholarships, grants, and/or loans he or she may be eligible to receive. While on the topic of money, talk honestly with your student about how much you can afford to help with college and what you expect your student to contribute.
  3. Create a spreadsheet to compare college options. The key categories include size, location, tuition (add room and board if applicable), commuting costs, financial aid offers (make subcategories for scholarships, loans, grants, work-study, etc., so the comparisons are fair), graduation rates, distance from home, plus any personal pros and cons.
  4. Set criteria for choosing a college. For some students, money is the key factor in deciding which college’s offer to accept. For others, it’s about the strength of a particular program, the location, how well they fit in on campus, living arrangements, the social aspect, or another factor. Help your student determine which criteria take priority.
Handling Rejections

Sometimes the first responses are negative. Give your teen time and space to regroup. Once your child has recovered, talk to him or her about developing a new plan. Help your teen to remember that there are many schools and jobs in the world and many paths that lead to happiness and success.

Discuss options with your teenager for the upcoming year. You might advise your student to:
  1. Accept a second- or third-choice college. It might actually be a better fit for your student.
  2. Attend a community college for a year or two and then reapply to a four-year college. Doing so is a great way to save money and complete transferable classes and, in the end, a final diploma comes from the four-year college.
  3. Take a "gap" year and work, volunteer, travel, and/or complete an internship.
  4. Use the year to strengthen credentials. Your student could retake the ACT Test, learn a language, or develop new skills that set him or her apart to reapply next year.
  5. Appeal to the college if new information is available. For example, maybe your student's grades went up dramatically or he or she won a major competition since applying to the college. (Note: A student shouldn't appeal a college's decision simply because he or she was disappointed. There must be compelling new information that was not available at the time of application.)



Hit the Road: Summer College Tours

While some students await college admission letters, others aren’t quite at that stage yet. If you’re the parent of a high school sophomore or junior, take advantage of your student’s free time this summer by getting a true feel for some schools that may interest him or her.

To make the most of the college visits, plan ahead. Collect and review materials from the school(s) your student wants to visit, and narrow the list to avoid information overload. Schedule campus tours in advance. Work with your student to develop a list of questions to ask admissions and financial aid officials. Take the list of questions with you. Be careful not to dominate the conversation. Let your teen do some of the talking.

Give your teen some space to explore on his or her own by visiting the student union and campus hangouts, asking questions of students, and possibly staying overnight in a residence hall with a student. Admissions officers can often arrange these stays.

You both need to feel comfortable with the college decision, so use this time to understand which schools are the best fit.

For more information, visit the ACT Student website.



"What Will I Be When I Grow Up?"

You can help your younger children explore possible answers to this question via the ACT Career Club, a prototype career discovery site in the Whyville virtual world.

ACT invites students ages 8 through 15 to visit the ACT Career Clubhouse, where they can have fun while gathering information on as many as 555 unique occupations, grouped into six areas of interest ranging from science and technology to the arts. By playing an interactive digital game called CareerQuest, teens and tweens can investigate a wide variety of different occupations and potential careers—and discover professions that may surprise them.

Based on ACT's extensive research in education and the workplace, the Career Club is designed to be fun for students and a useful tool for parents and educators. Encourage your child to visit the ACT Career Club and begin the quest for his or her future occupation.



ACT Video Contest Winners Announced

ACT has announced the winners of its annual high school video contest for 2013. First-place winners received college scholarships of $1,000 to the college of their choice. Second-place winners received scholarships of $500. The 10 winning videos were selected from entries submitted from students in 36 states. Contest entrants were eleventh-grade and twelfth-grade high school students who plan to attend a two- or four-year college in the next two years.

The winners are:

CategoryFirst Place WinnerSecond Place Winner
Test-Day TipsMatthew Hsu
High Technology High School
Lincroft, NJ
Kelly Leifheit
Sycamore High School
Sycamore, IL
Photo IDsAlexis Bradby
Maryville High School
Maryville, TN
Hannah Gilbert
Prior Lake High School
Prior Lake, MN
Cheating is WrongAaron Maxey
Prosper High School
Prosper, TX
Vineeth Mohan
Clovis North High School
Clovis, CA
The ACT English TestBreahna Gibbons
John Paul II High School
Irving, TX
Cherilyn Rainer
Homeschooled
Taylors, SC
ACT Test MythsIan Brock
Urban Prep Charter Academy
Chicago, IL
Shelby Knighten
Gautier High School
Gautier, MS

The two-minute or shorter videos were judged on overall content (50 percent), creativity (25 percent), and visual appeal (25 percent). The winning videos encourage high school students to plan and prepare for college and the ACT Test. Click here to view the winning entries.

The students who won first place provided details about their contest entries.

Matthew Hsu, a junior at High Technology High School in Lincroft, New Jersey, created his winning video to convey the dos and don'ts of test preparation. His side-by-side images show recommended test preparation tips in color, alongside black and white images of what not to do. Hsu plans to study computer science in college.

Alexis Bradby, a junior at Maryville High School in Maryville, Tennessee, hopes to study film production after graduation. For her video on the topic of how to submit a photo ID to register for the ACT Test, Bradby recruited friends to demonstrate valid photo selection.

Aaron Maxey chose for his winning video the topic of why cheating on exams is wrong. His goal was to convey important information in an entertaining and creative manner. Maxey hopes to study cinematic arts after graduating this spring from Prosper High School in Prosper, Texas.

Breahna Gibbons created her video to help ACT Test takers with the English portion of the exam. She used creative animation, motion, and color to create a visually appealing, simple, and straightforward message. A senior at John Paul II High School in Irving, Texas, Gibbons would like to study business marketing in college.

Ian Brock chose a question/answer interview format for his video entry, created to debunk common myths about the ACT Test. Brock hopes to study criminal justice at Morehouse College in Atlanta after graduation from Urban Prep Charter Academy in Chicago this spring.



Preparing Your Student for ACT Test Day

If you are the parent of a student who will be taking the ACT on a national test date, we need you to help make sure your student follows the new ACT test security requirements.

Please help your student upload or submit (via ACT website, mobile device, or mail) a recognizable head-and-shoulders photo of him or herself when registering for the ACT.

The photo will be printed on your student's admission ticket, which he or she is required to bring to the test center to be admitted. Your student also needs to bring and present an acceptable photo ID on test day.

Your student's photo will be printed on the examinee roster that testing staff use to check in students on test day. Staff will match the name and photo on the student's admission ticket, the test center roster, and the student's photo ID before admitting the student.

In addition to helping your student meet the ACT photo requirements, please also review with him or her our other test day rules, such as what to bring to the test center, expected behavior on test day, which calculators are permissible, and whether mobile phones can be used.

Check out our list of FAQs for more information. We are here to help, so let us know if you have a question.

With a little help in advance from you, your student's test day experience can go smoothly and successfully.



2013-2014 ACT Test Date Schedule

Test Date Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline
(extra fees required)
Photo Upload Deadline
April 13, 2013 March 8, 2013 March 9-22, 2013April 9, 2013
June 8, 2013 May 3, 2013 May 4-17, 2013June 4, 2013
September 21, 2013 available soon available soonavailable soon
October 26, 2013 available soon available soonavailable soon
December 14, 2013 available soon available soonavailable soon
February 8, 2014* available soon available soonavailable soon
April 12, 2014 available soon available soonavailable soon
*No test centers are scheduled in New York for the February test date.

NOTE: Registration deadlines for 2013–2014 will be announced shortly. We will add deadlines to this table once we get the information. You can also check here.

ACT is committed to providing students a fair and equal opportunity to demonstrate their independent academic achievement. To that end, we have implemented additional safeguards to further ensure ACT score integrity. One of these safeguards is the requirement for students to provide a photo when they register.

Photos must be provided by the photo upload deadline for each test date. If the deadline is missed, the registration will be cancelled and the student will not be admitted to test.

Click here for details on all ACT test security requirements.



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Copyright © 2013 by ACT, Inc. All rights reserved.