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Dealing with Rejection from College Applications

So you didn't get in to your first choice college - what now?

Anna Pitts, The Graduate Recruitment Bureau

January 16, 2013

Dealing with Rejection from College Applications
It’s always hard when you had your heart set on a college only to get the letter through the post, ‘We are sorry to inform you that your application was unsuccessful…’ So, what happens next? It might seem like your life has ended, especially if that specific college played a huge role in your life plan. But all is not lost- there are plenty more fish in the sea and, luckily for you, more colleges in the world. Here are some tips from Anna Pitts of The Graduate Recruitment Bureau on dealing with rejection from the college interview and application process and what your next steps should be after a knock-back from your first choice.

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1. Get feedback If you got rejected after an interview rather than just an initial application form, you should receive feedback and valid reasons why you were not offered a place. If you do not get any useful feedback then don’t be shy to politely ask them for some constructive comments on how to increase your chances of getting into another college or reapplying next year.

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Once you know the reasons why you weren't successful then you can work on them and try again with more confidence. It might be that you haven’t gotten enough work experience for the course you want, or it might have been something you said in interview that could be avoided next time. In any case, asking for feedback is always useful and if you can take their comments on board it will only increase your chances of a successful application.

2. Don’t feel victimized

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It can be easy to take each unsuccessful application personally and see it as an attack against your abilities. In some cases you could be genuinely unsuitable for their college; perhaps you aren't predicted high enough grades for example, but you won’t be the only person who got turned away from them due to academic reasons.
That is just one example of many; academic abilities aren't the only deciding factor to an admission. The important thing to note is that you won’t be the only person to be turned away from college, so don’t feel victimized.

3. Bounce back/stay positive Try not to get depressed when things don’t go as you hoped; everything happens for a reason- and bigger, better colleges are just around the corner waiting to accept you! The most detrimental thing to success is a negative, skeptical mind set; don’t let your spirits be dampened by one college’s opinion- it’s their loss! Think positive, stay positive and be positive and your sunny outlook will rub off on your applications.

4. Have a ‘plan b’ The well-prepared college student will have a back-up plan ready for when things don’t go as they expected. Don’t pin all your hopes on one application; apply to as many as you can just so you have options. Rank them in order of preference so you know straight away which one you will accept if you get in. Remember it isn't the end of the world if you don’t get into your first choice; there are plenty of good colleges and many routes to success that you can take. So, have a ‘plan b’ that is ready to be put into action should you need it!

5. Don’t give up Even if you get turned away from more than one college and you really start to feel that the universe is telling you that you shouldn't go- don’t give up! If you really want to go to college there is no reason why, if you have the necessary grades and drive, you shouldn't go and do well. If your first batch of college applications comes back negative then consider taking a gap year and refocus your priorities. Gain experience, study hard and use the comments you got to boost your chances for next year. Then, having wiped the slate clean, reapply with a fresh mind and attitude. Then, keep your fingers crossed!

Has anything helped you deal with college app rejection?

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