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Articles / Applying to College / Should I Reapply to A College That Has Already Denied Me Twice?

April 24, 2019

Should I Reapply to A College That Has Already Denied Me Twice?

Should I Reapply to A College That Has Already Denied Me Twice?
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I have applied to my dream school every year for the past two years (USC film school). I've been working on films and entering film festivals every year since twelfth grade and also working. I chose not to go to my safety school (DePaul) because I'd rather just keep trying for USC. After being rejected again this year, I'm wondering whether I'm hurting my chances of getting in by reapplying. I originally thought it would help me because it shows commitment to USC but now I'm questioning whether or not to reapply next year.

It is very unusual for a student, who was denied by a highly selective college as a senior, to be accepted the following year UNLESS that student has accomplished something quite exceptional during the time away. In addition, the student's academic statistics (high school GPA and ACT/SAT scores, where required) have to be within the college's typical admitted-student range as well, since they won't change during a gap year. Gap year achievements, no matter how impressive, rarely make up for deficiencies in an academic record.


You haven't told “The Dean" what was different about your second try at USC. What did you do since graduating from high school? Did you focus on improving the artistic supplements that USC requires?

If you made little change to your original application, then it's no surprise that you were denied again. You certainly shouldn't have expected good news. But if you did make significant changes to your portfolio this time around, and yet you were denied anyway, then that's a clear message that you need to set your sights on a new college, at least for now.

As Albert Einstein allegedly once said (and probably should have if he didn't), “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." So perhaps the sane route for you is to enroll at another school and then reapply to USC as a transfer, but only if your college grades are very strong and you have been able to compile examples of outstanding work. The Dean fears that applying to USC again, before matriculating elsewhere, is a recipe for more disappointment. Yet if you are able to prove yourself at another institution and then take a final shot at USC, you may find that the third time is indeed the charm.

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Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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