Reader Question: How Do I Tell Friends About Our Acceptance Letters When They Got Bad News?

Good News? Bad News?

We got a question from a reader who is concerned about talking to her friends and people she knows about her admissions decisions. I love that she is doing everything possible to be sensitive to her friends’ feelings.


Here’s the situation she described. Her child was accepted to several schools, including one where a friend’s child was declined a spot and one where another friend was wait-listed. The reader is very anxious about telling her friend she plans to turn down a spot the schools where her friends were declined admission and the other was wait-listed.


This is such a delicate and awkward situation that many of us have been through. This is a personal process, no question about it. It involves our kids!

The source of so much anxiety!

I remember a friendship between two moms I knew in preschool ending because one mom told the other mom the school she had chosen was “filled with weirdos.” Obviously nobody wants to hear such a snarky, mean remark from a friend that calls into questions her education choice for her kid.


Here are some tips that might be helpful:

  • Don’t hide your happiness about getting into schools. That will just seem fake.
  • If you’re planning to turn down a school that your friend really wanted her child to attend, don’t bash the school, but instead use a reason like geography or something non-controversial. After all, your friend may end up at that school if they were wait-listed!
  • Consider saying something like, “I’m sure you need time to sort out your options” or “my fingers are crossed that a spot opens-up from the wait-list.” What not to say? “Here’s what we did to get in” and then proceed to list all your tactics. But, if your friend would like some advice, do offer it. If you had an “insider” connection, why not be honest about it? And, don’t imply your friend is getting your “rejects.”
  • The absolutely worst thing to say? “Grace got Grace into The Center For Early Education.” A mom in our preschool went around saying something like that  and it came across as incredibly pompous and smug.
  • You may hear a lot of blaming the preschool director for what went wrong in your friend’s situation. Try not to attack the director. You have no way of knowing what went on behind closed doors.
  • Let your friend know you value her friendship and you think her child is wonderful.
  • Implore your friend not to beat herself up over getting bad admissions news. She’s going to do that anyway, but let her know she made the best decisions possible at the time.
  • Remind your friend that kids get in off wait-lists throughout the summer. Once they are at the school nobody knows or cares that they were wait-listed.
  • Whatever you do, don’t beat up on public schools. Your friends may need to send their kids there!
  • A lot of times, parents think a school was their 3rd choice or last choice. Once they pay the deposit, start going to new family events and enroll at the school, that changes. What was once low on their list is now their kids amazing school. How cool is that?
If you have tips to share, please leave a comment (reply). We’d love to hear from you!

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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

8 thoughts to “Reader Question: How Do I Tell Friends About Our Acceptance Letters When They Got Bad News?”

  1. Bad news: we didn’t get into either of our top two choices. Good news: we got into three other schools that we aren’t so crazy about. We probably should have scrutinized and mentally ranked our “not-top-choice” schools more carefully, but it seemed pointless until we knew where we’d get in. Now what? Can we call the places we got in and ask (maybe awkward) questions? Ask to talk to a family who goes to each? (We don’t know anyone who goes to any of them.) Visit again? How do we decide between three “eh” options?

    1. Hi Me, Sorry about your top two choices not working out. But, congratulations on the other 3 schools! You can definitely ask to speak to current and alumni families at the school. You ask the admissions director for that information. Besides speaking to families at the school, I’m not sure about a visit, but you could ask. You don’t want to seem too skeptical! Overall, you need to figure out which one will be the best fit for your child. Think about the teachers, the program, diversity, location, the things at the school that will inspire your child. Which one has the educational philosophy you liked the best? Was there something about any of the 3 schools you really don’t like? That’s how I’d go about narrowing it down. Christina

  2. This was so helpful! Thank you so much. I especially like the advice about graceful ways to say why you turned down a school that might be someone else’s top choice. And thank you so much for all your time and effort with this blog (and your book). You helped our family immeasurably!

  3. My eldest daughter did not originally get into our only private school application. I kept on the admissions director, called her every few days after the original rejection letter and after two weeks my daughter got in. We had applied even after acceptances had come out. We originally thought private school was too expensive so didn’t apply for the first deadline but when all our preschool friends got into the same private elementary school, and for other reasons, we decided to apply. We ended up getting 70% financial aid. I always tell people who think private school is too expensive to try. And even if you get rejected, to keep trying. Christina, what is your advice on this?

  4. We just got this email from a reader. How nice to hear!

    “I just wanted to let you know that almost all of my close friends who applied this year to private school (for kindergarten) were accepted to multiple schools! They all followed your advice after the lecture last year! :)”

  5. Christina, this is such great advice! I love it that you touch on parents really needing to be empathetic with one another. Kids hear things and parents need to support each child’s journey.

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