How to Handle College Rejections


College preparation can be stressful. A student can have his or her future all planned out, with standardized test dates scheduled, a study plan in place, college tours planned, college applications ready to send out, etc.

It will soon be time to send out the college applications to the student’s pick of colleges and universities. One day, when the mail arrives, the student receives a letter. Excited, she tears it open, waiting for the best news of her day — and life in general. To her dismay, the letter says she wasn’t accepted to the school of her choice. In tears, she doesn’t know how to handle the news.

Sometimes, the best laid plans do not work out. As a student, you could feel like your world is ending because you didn’t get in your dream college. As a parent, you want to help your child feel better and realize that even this situation has a reason behind it and its own silver lining.

If your student is rejected from her first choice college or any other college on her list, here are some tips to keep in mind when dealing with those college rejections.

Realize that you have other options.

One rejection letter or email is not the end of your college career before it has even begun. Make sure you apply to other schools and to other programs that suit your career aspirations. Look at the pros and cons of each. You may not have gotten into the school you wanted, but you could end up being where you need to be — somewhere that is a better fit for you. Focus on your other “yes” and “maybe” letters and aim for those universities. Realize that your self worth does not come from the college you attend (although it may seem like it right now).

Let yourself get angry — and then get over it.

Get mad for a little bit. Work through all of the stages of rejection. Don’t suppress your anger and associated depression after the anger subsides. Get it all out. Talk with friends and family. Manage your stress. If it gets to be too much, talk with a mental health professional near you or on BetterHelp. They will help you work though your college-preparation and rejection stress. Letting the feelings come to you naturally will help you get past the situation more quickly.

Don’t give up.

While it could be easier to just give up, if you have a dream school in mind, and you feel like the representatives didn’t make an adequate choice, then you have the right to appeal. While some schools do not have appeal processes, see if your school of choice does, and then go through the process. If you have received a better SAT or ACT score or submitted something in error, you could be eligible for a second review of your application. You can also decide to try again next year if you didn’t make the cut this time around. You could always transfer after you have a year at another university under your belt.

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