How to Appeal a College Rejection

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Receiving admission rejections can be a tough blow, more so if you are very keen on attending that particular school or if it was your top-choice college. It can be frustrating because you know you meet all the college’s admission requirements and more. You’ve gone to great lengths to put together an outstanding application that was sure to impress the admissions authorities. So what went wrong and why was your application rejected? Could it have been an oversight? Should you appeal the admission decision and begin the appeals process? And, how to appeal a college rejection?

It’s a difficult decision to make. If you try to appeal an admission decision, it can take even more of your time and energy, and you may not get the results you wanted. Would it be better to spend that time and money exploring your other options on your college list?

On the other hand, if you don’t pursue an appeal for your dream college, you may always find yourself wondering, “What if I could have been admitted…?”

It’s not an easy decision to make but these tips will help you!

When to Appeal a College Rejection

If your circumstances have changed since you submitted your application, then it is worth considering an appeal. Maybe you completed a relevant course or you won an award that would strengthen your application since your initial submission and make you a stronger candidate. 

Take a look at the average test scores, GPA, and extracurricular activities for your desired college. Compare them to your test scores, GPA, college transcript, high school transcript, and extracurricular activities to see if you’re close to them or even surpass them. If you’re close to their averages, it can be worth it to appeal, especially if your scores are above average. It could have been your personal statement that weakened your application which can be quickly changed during your appeal. 

If you have your heart set on attending a particular college, a better way to proceed would be to inquire as to why your application was rejected. You can then work on improving your weak points and submitting a stronger application during the next admissions cycle.

When Not to Appeal an Admission Decision

The truth is, the admissions department is thorough in its assessments of applicants. They go over each college application and weigh every aspect carefully. From your grades and test scores to your personal essay and extracurricular activities, everything is combed through. Your transcripts may be impressive but your personal essay may not have supported the promise you showed in your academic grades.

The top 50 colleges are difficult to receive admission from and if you get rejected, it’s not worth appealing. Schools like Princeton, Harvard, Yale, UCLA, USC, and Stanford are tough to get into and receive a large number of applications from qualified applicants each school year. These schools also have low acceptance rates in the first place, especially for freshman applicants. Appealing your rejection letter from these schools is usually not worth the time and effort because of how prestigious they are. 

There’s a lot that goes into deciding whether to accept or reject an application – it’s not any one thing. Appealing the decision because you think you deserve admission more than the others may not give you the results you are hoping for, especially if you don’t meet some of their requirements. It may be far better to channel your energy into applying elsewhere.

How to Appeal an College Rejection

1. Do Your Research

Every college has its own rule regarding appeal requests. Before you put any time and energy into drafting an appeal, first take the time to read through the admissions section of the college website.

Some colleges are clear that their decision is final and binding. They will not review any applications again, no matter what the reason. In this case, pursuing the matter any further will not be worth it. Use your energy and resources instead to explore your other options.

Other colleges may not mention anything about appeal requests, leaving the decision in your hands. In this case, you could contact the school and make inquiries over the phone or in person.

Still, other colleges give detailed guidelines to the formal process as to how to proceed if you wish to appeal the decision. If there are instructions posted on the site, make sure you follow them to a tee.

Also, go through the rejection letter you received again. If it says outright that the decision is final, it may be better not to spend any more time pursuing the matter. If there is no mention of a finalized decision, there is hope!

2. Act Fast Once You’ve Found the Information You Need

If you have received a rejection letter, it means that the school would have already sent out their acceptance letters too. Most of the seats may be filled up already. You need to act fast and send in your review request before all the seats are filled. Once that happens, there is no way to accommodate another student.

You must proceed with either filling up the online appeals form or contacting the admissions office immediately after receiving the decision. The sooner you start the process, the sooner you know whether an appeal is possible. You’ll also know what information you need to submit to be reconsidered so your application has no mistakes. 

When you submit your college appeal letter early, you are more likely to hear back from them early. This gives you plenty of time to explore your backup options if your appeal is not successful. If you wait too long, you could miss out on those deadlines. That leaves you with either taking an unnecessary gap year or enrolling in a last-choice college.

3. Be Specific About the New and Compelling Information You Wish to Present

The most common reason that colleges would even consider an appeal request is if there is some significant new information that has come to light after you submitted your original application.

Whether the new information is regarding an award you’ve won, a vocational course you’ve completed, or revised GPAs or test scores, make sure you present the facts clearly and concisely. Your SAT score and ACT score could have improved since the early decisions were released which would strengthen your application. You want the person reviewing your application to be impressed enough to overturn their original decision. Send in all relevant documentation to support this new information for maximum impact.

4. Put in the Appeal Request Yourself

When you are asking a college to change their decision about your initial application, it is imperative that the request comes from you personally. That means do not ask your teachers, parents, or anybody else to contact the college about appealing the rejection. By all means get their help if you need it, whether you need help to figure out how to proceed or you need help to put together a stronger application, but that’s it. The appeals letter must be written and submitted by you and no one else.

Colleges do not care much for your parents or teachers appealing on your behalf. They’d rather hear from you directly so that they can review and re-assess your work and your skills.

How to appeal a college rejection and when you should depend on how important the school is to you. We hope this guide helps you live your best college dream!

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