What to do if your child doesn’t get in to university

Not getting in to university can be a difficult and emotional experience for you and your child. It is important to be supportive and know what their options are.


After waiting months to find out if they have been offered a place at university, not getting in can feel like the end of the world to your child. Whether they have been rejected from their dream university or haven’t been offered a place at all it is important to support them.

Be informed

No one expects their child to be rejected from their chosen university, but knowing what else is out there can be helpful in case the worst happens.

If they have been offered a place at a different university, but it isn’t where they would like to go, don’t push them to take it. Leaving home to return two months later because they are unhappy isn’t the solution.

Making a list of what alternative options are out there is a great first step.

Taking a gap year is an opportunity to build confidence, meet new people, find out what you definitely want to do and maybe even to reapply for the same course the following year.

Volunteering or teaching abroad, travelling or just working full time to save some money are all great options.

If your child decides that they don’t want to go to university at all, an apprenticeship is a great way to continue learning while earning money and gaining valuable skills.

Drop the pressure

The pressure to attend your dream university is higher than ever especially when there is pressure from family, older siblings have attended university or friends have been offered a place.

None of this compares to the pressure your child will put on themselves to do well.

It is important to remember it isn’t their fault if they don’t get in and that they will be more disappointed than anyone.

Even if you already have a list of what their next steps could be, give them time to digest the news. Showing them ideas of what to do next straight after they receive their rejection could mean jumping in to something that they don’t want or wouldn’t enjoy.

Reach out

Thanks to the internet finding information about what your child can do next is easier than ever.

Calling the university to ask why your child didn’t get in and if there is something that would help their application in the future can also be helpful.

UCAS has a host of helpful information on what to do if you haven’t received an offer and are unsure of what to do next.

Target Careers provide help for teachers and parents on how to look for jobs and support your child. They also run Futurewise, a resource to help young people explore their career options and plan their future.

This can also be a stressful time for you as a parent. Talk to a family member or friend if you are finding it difficult to handle so that you can better support your child.

If you are unsure of who to talk to you can contact ParentLine on 08000 28 22 33 about any problem big or small.

Are you following Family Life on Twitter and Instagram? Make sure you do for information and support on education and next steps.

Family Life

Family Life is Scotland's premier lifestyle magazine, packed with recipes, reviews, real life stories and more. Pick up the lates issue FREE in a supermarket near you.

Error: Access Token is not valid or has expired. Feed will not update.
This error message is only visible to WordPress admins

There's an issue with the Instagram Access Token that you are using. Please obtain a new Access Token on the plugin's Settings page.
If you continue to have an issue with your Access Token then please see this FAQ for more information.