So, You Got a College Rejection Letter? Don’t Feel Dejected

Getting a rejection (a.k.a. “denial”) letter from a college or university doesn’t make you a failure. Unfortunately, some high school seniors see themselves in a less-than-positive light when they read the bad news from a highly desired institution. Dealing with rejection is difficult. Most high schoolers tend to take being turned down by a college or university on a personal level. They seem to think that the letter from the admissions office is really saying something like, “You are deficient and we don’t want to have anything to do with you.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is that, in a lot of cases, some denied students could have performed as well, if not better, at these colleges than those who were accepted could. This isn’t a rationalization or sour grapes. At schools where there is a significantly larger number of applications than seats (essentially those schools whose acceptance rates are 50% or less), there just isn’t room for all the qualified applicants. This fact is borne out by the so-called Waitlist. A waitlist comprises a group of “in-betweeners” who haven’t been denied but haven’t been admitted. They will be offered admission if the number of enrollments doesn’t meet expectations for the incoming freshman class. One well-known dean of admission said that his institution receives so many outstanding applications that he doesn’t have the heart to send rejection letters to all the non-accepted applicants. He noted that placing these fine young men and women on the waitlist is his way of saying, “We should have admitted you, but we didn’t have room.”

Such is the case with many good colleges. Everyone who is good enough to get in isn’t always offered admission. Take a little time to feel disappointed about not getting into your most-desired school(s). It’s perfectly natural to feel bad. Don’t dwell on it, though, and don’t develop an obsessive attitude about it. Don’t hate those schools forever. Don’t view successful candidates at those schools as elitist snobs. Accept the fact that you didn’t make the cut-for whatever reason-and get on with your life. Embrace those schools that have embraced you. Select the one that best suits your needs and prepare to have a great higher education experience. Yes, there is life after rejection, but how can you head off rejection at the pass?