Confronting Rejection: When Your All Isn’t Enough

Unfortunately, rejection can be a very real outcome of applying to private schools in L.A. The competition is fierce and you can emerge from the process without one single acceptance letter. After all that work, you still don’t have a private school where you can send your child.

The bottom line: too many applications for too few spots. Not enough private elementary schools. Those are the cold, hard facts about private elementary schools in L.A. 

That does little to comfort those parents who find themselves in this situation.  It’s impossible to know what really happened to cause your family to get rejection letters. Child too young? Too many boys? Too many siblings? We talk about the reasons behind rejection letters in Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles. 

As you know, from our book and this blog, my co-authors and I believe there’s a great private elementary school out there for every family. It may not be the one you had your heart set on. It may not be this week, this month or even this year. But, if you think you want a private school education for your child, don’t give up.

·     Whatever you do, don’t let this temporary setback deter you from seeking the best education possible for your child, whether public or private. It’s out there. Waiting for your family.

In the April issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, there’s a wonderful article called, Feeling Good. One exercise called Optimism 101 is especially relevant to handling rejection letters.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Martin Seligman, PhD, the father of positive psychology, gave us a quick lesson on a classic optimism-boosting exercise—which he calls the ABCDEs. The goal, Seligman says, is to get you to stop thinking pessimistically, rather than teach you to start thinking optimistically (which rarely works). “This fix isn’t instantaneous,” he says. “But we’ve done studies on it involving thousands of subjects, and we know it’s effective.” So the next time you experience a setback—anything from a leaky faucet to a fight with a friend—walk yourself through these five steps:
A. Name the adversity, or problem.
(For example: “I didn’t get a call back after my job interview.”)
B. List your beliefs.
These are your initial reactions to the problem. (“The interviewer saw right through me. I don’t deserve that position. And he could probably tell I don’t believe in myself. I’m sure the other applicants are smarter, younger, and more qualified than I am.”)
C. Identify the consequences of your beliefs.
(“I’m going to quit my job search so I don’t have to suffer through this feeling of failure again.”)
D. Formulate a disputation of your beliefs.
Pessimistic reactions are often overreactions, so start by correcting distorted thoughts. (“I probably didn’t feel confident because that position wasn’t the best fit. It’s only a matter of time before I find an opportunity that’s right for me. And now that I’ve had practice, I will be better prepared to present my best self.”)
E. Describe how energized and empowered you feel now.
(“I’m more motivated to keep looking for a job that makes me happy. I won’t let fear stand in my way.”)
Practice this exercise as often as possible, and when you can, take time to write out the ABCDEs. Eventually, the sequence will become a habitual thought process. Seligman found that his subjects were still using the technique four years after he taught it to them.
For more tips from this series, visit O Magazine. 
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Christina Simon: Los Angeles, California, United States I'm the mom of two kids who attended The Willows School in Culver City and Viewpoint School in Calabasas. My daughter is a graduate of Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism ('23) and my son is a sophomore at UPenn/Wharton ('26). I live in Coldwater Canyon with my husband, Barry, and our dogs. Contact me at

One thought to “Confronting Rejection: When Your All Isn’t Enough”

  1. You must have heard me opening our one and only letter: a rejection letter. We're very upset, but we only applied to one school for kindergarten. We knew it was a risk, but we really felt we'd get in. We thought we did everything right and that the school would be perfect for our son and our daughter in a few years. Luckily, our son has the option to stay at preschool another year or enter our local public school which is good.

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