How to handle college rejection

How to handle college rejection | JLV College Counseling Blog

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. 

Many students feel like it is the end of the world when they find out they have not been admitted to a college, especially when the deny letter comes from their “dream school.” However, it’s not the end of the world. It is just a setback that many people have overcome and have gone on to do amazing things. For example, these people were rejected by a college:

  • Steven Spielberg was rejected from the University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinema Arts. He ultimately attended California State University, Long Beach and went on to win over 100 awards, including three Oscars.
  • Katie Couric was rejected from Smith College, a college her two sisters had attended. She decided to attend the University of Virginia and is now one of the most well known female journalists in the United States.

Instead of dwelling on their rejections, they worked past their disappointment, went to colleges that wanted them, and did great things in their lives.

It is okay to be sad about rejections. It is normal to be sad and to feel devastated. It is not fun getting turned down by anyone, including a college you have been picturing yourself at for months. Take time to be sad, but remember these things:

  1. You are not alone. Many students will be denied admission to one of the colleges they applied for admission. This is especially true for students who applied to highly selective colleges. Last year, for example, Stanford University had the lowest acceptance rate in the country. 95 percent of the students who applied to Stanford were not offered admission. Many of those students were academically qualified, but they just did not have the room to accept all of the students who applied.
  2. It’s not personal. You were not denied from a college because admissions officers did not like you. For some students, they may have not been offered admission because they were not academically ready to do well at the college. At highly selective colleges, only a small percentage of students are accepted while many of the students who apply are academically qualified. The colleges only have a certain amount of seats available for incoming students and many colleges receive many more applications than available seats. This means that admissions committees must consider so many other things while trying to build their “well rounded” class.
  3. Don’t ask “what ifs.” What if I had a higher GPA? What if I had written my essay on another subject? “What ifs” won’t change the admissions decisions, so why dwell on things you cannot change? You are who you are. Don’t change for anyone, including a college. Instead, be yourself and attend a college that wants you.
  4. Celebrate the acceptance letters. Don’t dwell on the bad. Pay attention to the colleges that really want you. As you know, colleges don’t admit every student. So, if they accepted your application for admission, they want you. Celebrate your accomplishment of being accepted to a college or colleges.
  5. Embrace the schools that did accept you. All colleges have amazing things to offer students and the colleges that accepted you are no exception. Embrace the colleges that want you and find the one that feels the best for you.
  6. There are other options. If you weren’t accepted to your dream school, or any of the schools on your list, there are other options.
    • Community College. You could always go to a community college and take general education classes while building up your academic record and saving money. Later on you can transfer to a four-year university.
    • Take a Gap Year. A gap year is an opportunity to take classes, learn a trade, do volunteer work, travel, or take an internship, among other things. During this time, you can reapply to the colleges you wanted to attend, or apply to other colleges. However, if you are planning on reapplying, talk with your counselor or the admission officer at the colleges you are considering to see if this is a viable option.
    • Apply to other four-year colleges or university. We all hear about the admissions deadlines in November and December, but there are many institutions that are still accepting applications for the fall. Check the colleges out and see if they feel like a good fit, and if they do, apply for admission.

A rejection letter is not the end of the world. Instead, it is a detour on the way to your ultimate goal of a college degree. Detours are not always the route you wanted to take, but sometimes you’ll find them to be a better way to get to your destination. Embrace your options and move on to the destination that feels the best for your situation.

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2 Comments on “How to handle college rejection

  1. Excellent and encouraging advice for my Junior, who I know this time next year will need this wonderful article.

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