Top 5: Ways to Deal with College Rejection Letters

Top 5Ahh … the university rejection letter. Nearly anyone who’s ever applied to college knows the drill. The paper-thin envelope. The impersonal form letter with the inevitable phrase: “We regret to inform you … ” And then that sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach, when you realize with a start that a great institution you respect has told you that you are just not good enough.

Unfortunately, rejection is a simple fact of life. It happens to absolutely everyone at some point or another. And yet here’s the reality. Rejection letters aren’t even necessarily rejections – at least not in the standard sense of the word. That’s because the college admissions process has become very complicated over the past decade or so.

As a result, your dream university’s decision to reject your application might not have had anything to do with you whatsoever – or even your GPA or your high school transcripts. You’ll probably never discover why one school offered you a complete scholarship, for instance, while another turned you down outright. So please don’t beat yourself up over it. After all,  this is a time to celebrate  – you are about to cross a major milestone and a new phase of your life is about to begin!

In fact, it’s with just that attitude in mind that we’ve created this guide. Print and save the following five tips, and hopefully you’ll have at least a fighting chance of surviving those inevitable rejection letters. Of course, we hope you’ll never need to use any of these tips.

1. Maintain a sense of perspective … and a sense of humor.
It’s natural to feel sorry for yourself after experiencing a major disappointment. If your dream school turns you down, go ahead and have a good cry. (Or treat yourself to a giant ice cream sundae or do anything else that cheers you up when you’re feeling down.)

But there is something you need to remember - you’re not the only one.  Thousands of kids just like you, all across the country, are going through the very same thing. You’ll also feel a whole lot better if you can find at least some humor in the situation.

Consider, for instance, a group of seniors at Palo Alto High School in Northern California. They made national news after posting over 100 college rejection letters to a “Rejection Wall” in their school. Perhaps not surprisingly, the project helped to put the students’ so-called “failures” into perspective. And it was also pretty funny.

2. Consider appealing the decision or even reapplying.
If you receive a college rejection letter that you simply do not agree with, you can almost always appeal the school’s decision. You’ll need to include at least some new information about yourself and your accomplishments (academic and otherwise) in the appeal letter.

You’ll also want to be perfectly clear about why it is you’re appealing. Do you think the board may have overlooked something important on your application, for instance? Have you recently won any awards the board might not know about?

You should also include a couple new letters of recommendation, and you’ll also want to do all of this as quickly as possible. Check the college’s website to make sure you’re following its appeals or reapplication process to the letter, as different schools often have different regulations.

Tip: It’s sometimes possible to reapply to your dream school without going through the standard appeal process. Check the college’s website closely for specific details.

3. Never forget that attitude is everything.
Let’s say you end up attending a school that wasn’t originally at the very top of your wish list. If that does happen, you’ll need to keep in mind that the attitude you bring with you to college will absolutely make all the difference in the world. Take a bad attitude with you to school, and you simply won’t get what you should out of the college experience.

And, remember, while an Ivy League degree would certainly look nice on your resume some day, you’re ultimately attending school to become educated, discover your true passions in life and make professional connections. Thankfully, those are goals that can be accomplished at any institution of higher learning, as long as you work at them on a regular basis.

4. Don’t give up! Keep submitting applications.
So what are you to do if you’ve already collected an impressive stack of rejection letters,and not one single letter of acceptance? As the inimitable Winston Churchill once famously said:

“Never give in – never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”

In other words – keep trying. Find another school you like, and then another, and then another still. And apply to every last one. Make every effort to insure that each application is better than the last. Ask friends, parents, teachers and professors to recommend quality schools that you may have overlooked. And then apply to those.

Don’t give up. You absolutely can do this.

5. Reward yourself!
And finally, remember to celebrate your achievements. After all, you’ve managed to make it through high school – that’s a major accomplishment! You’ve worked hard for more than a decade, and now is the time to kick back and enjoy the rest of your senior year … just don’t kick back too much, schools will still look at your final transcripts.

Whatever you do, and no matter how your college application process turns out in the end, remember how lucky you are to have an abundance of opportunity – and that the possibility for personal betterment  – all around you.

Have you received a college rejection letter? Let us know how you dealt with the disappointment in the comments.

Need to apply to more schools, do another college search. Read about your senior year timeline and dealing with college admissions stress.

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3 responses to “Top 5: Ways to Deal with College Rejection Letters

  1. Right now I am faced with this and are helping me really! keep trying ;) right

  2. Yes! Best of luck! Please keep us posted!

  3. It’s really hard just to keep trying after getting rejected again and again.

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