Feeling Unaccepted?: How To Handle a College Rejection Letter

For every high school student applying to college, there is always the possibility of receiving a rejection letter.

You may have thought your application was perfect, your letters of recommendation adequately described your excellence and your college essay was the best piece of writing you ever produced. You may feel there is absolutely no way you could be rejected by the school of your dreams.

Unfortunately, it is possible.

You may have only applied to NYU because it was the only college you’ve ever wanted to attend. Or maybe everyone in your family attended Purdue and you don’t want to be the one to break the tradition. It’s possible you applied to a large number of colleges, but your heart is set on the University of Alabama.

You anxiously wait for the letter to come in the mail. You check the mailbox multiple times a day just waiting to see the name of your dream school printed in the top corner of the envelope. When it finally arrives you can’t wait to tear it open, see you’ve been accepted and share your good fortune with your family and friends.

Sadly, for many eager students it is a whole different situation. Being rejected from any college can be heartbreaking and extremely discouraging.

In the 2006 film Accepted, the main character Bartleby Gaines is taken aback when he is rejected from every single college he applied for. In a desperate attempt to make his parents proud, Bartleby creates a fake college. The idea is a stretch for sure, but the intense feeling of defeat oftentimes makes people do unbelievable things in an attempt to feel better.

Since there is always the chance of rejection, it’s important for students to know how to appropriately handle it. Sure, creating a fake college so you can tell your parents you were accepted somewhere may seem like a brilliant idea, but there are much simpler ways to come to terms with a rejection and move forward.

Accept it

The only way you will be able to move forward is by accepting your rejection. At this point, there is nothing you can change in regards to that letter. Trust me, it is going to be okay! Take a deep breath and keep pursuing. Don’t let the disappointment bring you down.

There is no need to lie about it

Bartleby thought lying and creating a fake college was brilliant. And to some extent (in the world of Hollywood) it was. However, in real life you shouldn’t lie to your family or friends. It will come back to you eventually. Just be honest. Having their support in the end will make you feel so much better.

Think of it in a positive way

Okay, so maybe you didn’t get in to what you believed to be your dream college. But maybe the rejection is actually just a sign. The world works in crazy ways sometimes. You may end up at a college that fits you much better than you could ever imagine. That rejection could very well lead you in a direction much better suited for you. You never know. Take it as a positive way to…

Explore other options

Don’t get too hung up on your original plan. Growing up will be full of changing your plans. Building your career is a lifelong journey. My professor said something very similar to that just yesterday, and I couldn’t agree more. Look into other schools, go to community college and explore different subjects, take some time off, look into online colleges, etc. You are out of high school now. Explore a little!

Go somewhere else first

It is very understandable that you may still have your heart set on a specific school, and that’s okay. There is no reason to give up if you feel so strongly for it. One suggestion I have is to attend a different university or community college first. Go for a year, build up your application with more classes and activities and apply for transfer. You may just get accepted the second time around.

Don’t feel discouraged or dumb

Feeling down is a common occurrence when being rejected in anything. Just because you didn’t get accepted into the college of your choice doesn’t mean you are dumb. There are tons of reasons applications get rejected. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Do you feel it’s your grades? You have a second chance.

I know a few people who didn’t do so great in high school and as a result didn’t get into college. If this is the case, attend your local community college. Take some gen eds, improve your grades, and go apply again a year or two later. This will allow you to explore different interests and career options while working toward your degree. This time will also allow you to look into other schools and even save some money.

Rejection is something we all deal with in our lives. The best thing you can do is learn how to handle it in positive ways!

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Molly Stallman

Molly Stallman

Molly Stallman is a senior at DePaul University working toward an English degree with an emphasis on Creative Writing. She also has a minor in Digital Cinema. Molly especially enjoys spending time with loved ones, listening to music, watching movies/television and playing with her dogs. She also has a passion for antiques, crafts, animals, photography and the great outdoors.