What Did YOU Do When Your Kid Was Accepted to College?

It is one of life’s big moments, a never-to-be-forgotten day, when your teen logs onto the website of the college they will attend and sees the word CONGRATULATIONS. Getting accepted to college is a unique turning point in life. Leading up to that moment there are fears, trepidation and an overwhelming sense of pride for what your teen has already accomplished. Applying to college is a feat and getting accepted to college is the moment of glory. We asked some parents what this experience was like for them and their families and here are some of the responses we received.

Everyone got the exciting news in a slightly different way. Some parents admitted to knowing their kid’s password and checking for themselves, others waited for the screaming to alert them to the good news.

How parents react when their teen is accepted to college

Junk Mail

Ellen Williams, one half of the amazing Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms:

“We just experienced this last night with my oldest. We get sooo much college mail and I was just trying to clear the counter off. I ripped into the envelope over the trash can and then was “Whoa, wait, come over here, girl!”

She started off with “Well, it’s just my safety school,” but by the end of her sentence she had a grin of pure joy. Then she saw she was awarded money and we were both stupidly grinning. And I thought, this is really happening.

She breezed out the door to go over to her friend’s house and as if showing me the future, I was alone to have my tears. I was overjoyed, filled with so much pride I thought I was going to burst so I supposed it just leaked out of my eyes.”

Before and After

Michelle Newman, You’re My Favorite Today and contributor to Grown and Flown:

“When my daughter screamed that she’d received the decision email from her top-choice school (300 miles away), the whole family ran down to the living room and stood around her watching her face while she opened it.

In the three seconds before her face lit up I think I had three small seizures. When she jumped up and we all four danced around in a group hug, my legs were shaking (almost uncontrollably), I could hear the blood pounding in my ears, and I could barely catch my breath.

Was it all due to my elation at her euphoria? Absolutely. But in hindsight I know my physiological reaction was more likely due to the realization that this was one of those moments that we’d always have a “before” and an “after” to. That, although a momentous and wonderful moment, it was one that would lead to an entire world of change in our family, which, while my head knew was the (good) plan all along, my heart was already terrified for.”

Get the Camera

Janet Ross: We were thrilled for her – and I loved the envelope that held her acceptance! It was almost a year ago and it really helped calm a lot of the senior year anxiety

How parents react when their teen is accepted to college


Mary Quigley, author of Parenting Part 2 column at AARP

My daughter collapsed to the ground screaming and crying when she got in her first choice early decision. Of course, she was a drama major.

Sister Act

Ann Mitchell Norman: Probably the most squeal-worthy moment was when our younger daughter, on one final visit in mid-April, announced that she had finally made her decision — to go to her big sister’s school. Big Sis screamed for about 5 minutes, then happily told everyone we saw on campus for the rest of the day that “my sister is coming here! My sister is a Flyer!”

How parents react when their teen is accepted to college

[Related: How older siblings influence the choice of the younger sibs as they consider which schools to apply to.]

Meant to Be

Teri Biebel, Snarkfest:

When my husband took our daughter to visit WVU, he texted me this: “There’s no way she’s NOT going to go here” because every single building she entered, there were a minimum of four people who recognized her and ran up giving her hugs. Many of the kids who graduate from her high school go on to WVU for college. It was the only school she applied to, and when she was accepted it was high fives and hugs all around.

Getting the News First

Sharon Greenthal, Empty House Full Mind:

My daughter was in Shanghai, China with her show choir group when I logged in to her Boston University account and saw that she had been accepted…yes, I was that mom…I called my husband who was with her, 5 am Shanghai time, to tell him (and her). Obviously I was happy, wink.

Peeking Mom

Candace Allan, Text Me, Love, Mom:

True confession – I scrunched up the envelope – it was an envelope back then when the eldest was accepted to Emily Carr – a prestigious art school, 600 miles away from home. Peeking inside I could see that it was their ‘pleasure to admit her’. I always knew I would cry and I didn’t disappoint myself, sitting in the May sunshine on the back steps with tears trickling down my cheeks, and that daughter about to burst through the door from school with a carload of giddy friends.

When your kid is accepted to college

Bleeding College Colors

Karen Hettrick Wiegel: My son has bled green and white since birth…could sing the Michigan State fight song, literally, from the time he could talk. My husband and I went to MSU, all of our siblings did as well. All of my aunts and uncles and cousins went there…so, as you can see, it is a big family tradition. We knew from what he was told by his college counselor that he would most likely be deferred, then would also most likely get in in February or March. The deferment came in the fall, then the waiting began. In early February I saw an email that told Alex to check his portal for good news. I was on the phone with a friend at the time, and I literally started crying. I texted him at school and told him to check his email…the rest is history…Now he’s a freshman at the only school he ever wanted to be at, and we couldn’t be happier for him!

How parents react when their teen is accepted to college

In His Blood

Betsy Bruning: We bleed Penn State Blue and White. We knew that was his top choice but my husband and I worked hard to help him narrow down other choices just in case. We had actually been at a PSU game the day his acceptance came in the mail! By chance he went to the mailbox that night and, when he got to the kitchen with the mail, he came in and slammed that acceptance on the table. So many, many tears as we called aunts, grandparents etc!!


Click here for a list of our favorite posts for parents of teens who will soon be leaving the nest.


About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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