Think before reacting to a college rejection

Girl on Smart Phone

Rejection hurts. No matter what anyone says, being rejected from a college will hurt. Whether the college is your dream school or the college you called your safety school, it will hurt. Everyone deals with rejection differently. Some will be sad but will bounce back quickly. Others will be sad for a little longer. Some students might react quickly, without thinking. While it is okay and natural to be hurt, reacting without thinking could actually make the situation worse.

Every year students who were not accepted to colleges send hateful emails to college admissions officers. Many others turn to social media and the internet to voice their disappointment. Some even turn to an “old” technology and pick up the phone to call the admissions office. Before sending that email, making that phone call or posting something online, students should consider these things:

  • An angry email or phone call will not help your case. A phone call or email sent in anger will only confirm the admissions office’s decision that it was best not to admit the student.
  • Hateful speech will probably lead to a discussion with your school counselor. Some admissions officers will notify your school counselor of an angry email or phone call. After being notified about this behavior, most school counselor will have a conversation with the student. The discussion will probably include reasons why this type of reaction is wrong and unprofessional.
  • Police may get involved. If the admissions officer or college feel threatened at all, they may notify the police. Even if a student did not mean the words they wrote or said, that does not matter. What matters is how the information was received. If there are threats, even if they were only said in anger, police can take this very seriously.
  • Other colleges might find out. Many colleges watch social media. If they see a student sharing disparaging remarks about another college, they could rescind their acceptance. If they haven’t sent decisions yet, this could likely change the decision they made about the student’s application. Even if colleges are not paying attention to social media, they could still find out. College admissions officers have friends and colleagues at other colleges. These friendships happen because of the time they spend together on the road at college fairs and professional development events. They may give their friends a “heads-up” about negative and unprofessional actions a student makes.

Again, being rejected from a college is hard. No one will deny this. However, before making a rash decision, think about your actions. Don’t send that hateful email. Don’t post that hateful message online. Being denied from a college is not the end of the world. The decision was not personal – for many highly selective colleges, they cannot accept all of the qualified students who applied. Instead of getting angry, celebrate the acceptance letters you received from other colleges. Explore your other options, including other admissions offers, community college, or taking a gap year and reapplying.

If being denied is something that is weighing on your mind, it is okay to talk about it. However, students should not go into the conversations with anger. Take some time to cool off and then ask questions. School counselors are great people to turn to with questions. They may have some insight or advice on how to handle the decision. Many admissions officers will also answer questions when students act professionally. Sometimes students will hear about the many qualified students who applied and the admissions team had to make tough decisions. Other times the admissions officer might be able to shed more light on the situation. Sometimes admissions officers can even help students devise a plan to reapply in the future by working on certain aspects of their application or academic profile.

Reacting fast without thinking after being denied from a college is easy. However, before sending off an email, phone call or post online, students should make sure they are thinking clearly. A negative interaction between a student and a college could have a negative impact. It could burn the bridge if a student wanted to reapply in the future. It could also have an impact on other college decisions. Instead, take time to consider your reaction and move towards handling the situation professionally and with maturity.

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