Not receiving a letter of admission is hard. Rejection hurts. No matter what anyone will tell you, not being admitted to a college will hurt. Whether it was your dream college or a college you called your safety school, it will hurt.
Some students will feel like it is the end of the world when they find out they were not accepted by a college. However, it is not the end of the world. It is just a setback. Many people have overcome this type of situation and have gone on to do amazing things. For example, the following people received the famous, “Unfortunately, we cannot offer admission to our college,” letters:
- Steven Spielberg did not receive admission to the University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinema Arts. He went on to attend Cal State Long Beach and is now one of the most well-known people in the movies.
- Katie Couric was not admitted to Smith College even though her two sisters attended the college. She went on to attend the University of Virginia and is now one of the most well-known female journalists in the United States.
- John Kerry did not receive an admission letter from Harvard University. However, he went on to Yale University, Boston College of Law, and eventually became the Secretary of State.
It is easy to dwell on a rejection. However, the people above worked past their disappointment and went on to colleges that did want them! And, they still did, and are still doing, great things!
It is okay to be sad when you are not admitted to a college. It is normal to be sad and to feel devastated. It is not fun getting turned by anyone or anything, including a college you have been picturing yourself at for months. Take your time to be sad, but remember these things:
1. You are not alone
Many students will not receive admission to one of the colleges they sent their application. Last year, for example, Stanford University received over 44,000 applications for admission and they only admitted about five percent of the applicants! 95 percent of the students who applied to Stanford were not offered admission. Many of the students were probably academically qualified. Unfortunately, Stanford just did not have room to accept all of the students who applied.
2. It’s not personal
You were not denied from a college because an admission officer did not like you. Some students will not be offered admission because they were not academically ready to do well at the college. At other colleges, the colleges receive way more applications than they can admit. 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 the admission committees must consider so many other things when trying to build their “well rounded” classes.
3. Don’t ask the “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 admission decision, 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 your acceptance letters!
Don’t dwell on the bad. Pay attention to the colleges that really want you. If the college sent an acceptance letter, they want you. Celebrate your accomplishment of being accepted to a college or colleges.
5. Embrace the colleges that did accept you
All colleges have amazing things to offer students and the colleges that sent admission letters are not an exception. Embrace the colleges that want you and find the one that feels the best for you.
6. There are other options
If you were not accepted to your dream school, or any of the schools on your list, there are other options.
- Community College. You can 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. 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 college you are considering to see if this is a viable option.
- Apply to other four-year colleges or universities. A big misconception among students is that it’s too late to apply to college. While there are many colleges that are no longer accepting applications, there are also many that are on rolling admission and still accepting applications. Check out these colleges still accepting applications, see if they are a good fit, and send in your application.
A rejection letter is not the end of the world. Instead, it is a detour on the way to your goal of a college degree. Detours are not always the route you wanted to take, but sometimes you will 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.