How to Deal With College Rejection Letters: 7 Steps

No matter what anyone tells you, rejection hurts. How to deal with college rejection – first, take it easy on yourself!

Failing to get into your “dream school” or other colleges you applied to, can be crushing but it’s important to remember: you have options. It’s not the end of the world, and acting now can still result in a great year ahead of you. Use this 7 step guide to help you deal with rejection letters in a healthy and productive way!

How to Deal with College Rejection

It’s no fun getting turned down by anyone, including a college at which you have been picturing yourself. Take time to be sad, but remember:

A big stop sign hanging on a pole.

1. You Can Write an Appeal Letter

Did you know that a college denial letter may not be the “final word” on the subject? Some students can absolutely write an appeal letter to the college! Some schools, though, don’t offer this option, so research is necessary. Students should look into whether or not appeal letters are accepted, but also the process for submitting the appeal.

Any necessary documents should be sent in immediately by the student, no one else. Although you may want to get your parents or teachers involved, taking this on by yourself and representing yourself will greatly help your case. When you write your letter, be sure to be polite, state the facts, and include personal information about yourself that could have impacted your grades, work, or other aspects of your life. If you’re sharing new information with the college that they were unaware of, it could help change their mind.

The appeal process isn’t a guaranteed in, but you may just get lucky!

2. Know You are not alone

Many students will be denied admission to at least one of the colleges they applied to. 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 more than qualified, but selective schools just don’t have the room to accept all of the students who applied.

And colleges reject plenty of people who go onto become famous. 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 have the career he has had (and continues to have). 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.

3. It’s not personal

You did not get a rejection letter from a college because admissions officers didn’t 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.

Colleges only have a certain number of seats available for incoming students and most colleges receive many more applications than available seats. This means that admissions committees must consider many other factors while trying to build their “well-rounded” class.

4. Don’t Dwell on the “what ifs”

What if you had the chance to improve your GPA? What if you had written your essay on another subject?

These “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 you will find another college to attend.

5. Celebrate the acceptance letters

Don’t dwell on the bad. Pay attention to the victories–the acceptance letters. Even if you got denied to your dream school, if you planned out your potential colleges accordingly, you should have been accepted to some backup and safety schools.

And you never know – the experience could be just as good or even better than the one you would have had at your dream college. There is no one perfect school.

As you know, colleges don’t admit every student. So, if they accepted your application for admission, they want you. Celebrate your accomplishments!

6. 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 these schools and find the one that feels the best for you. Look up information about the schools and think about what you’re looking forward to. Get excited about attending one of those!

7. Consider Your other options

If you weren’t accepted to your dream school or any of the schools on your list, there are still other options.

  • Attend Community College. You could always go to community colleges instead of universities and take general education classes while building up your academic record and saving money. Later, 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 pursue 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 to reapply, 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 universities. We all hear about the admissions deadlines in November and January, but there are many institutions that accept applications throughout the summer or offer “rolling” admissions. There may be some hidden gems in here for you

Don’t let a rejection letter and how to deal with college rejection weigh you down. 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.

Curious about your acceptance odds? Use College Raptor’s free match tool to see your personalized acceptance odds at any four-year college in the country!

One thought on “How to Deal With College Rejection Letters: 7 Steps”

  1. Jen says:

    Thank you!

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