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How to Handle College Rejection

March 27, 2024

March 27, 2024

Don’t worry, life doesn’t just end because you didn’t get into a school. Dealing with college rejection is rough but you’re far from out of options. Let’s take a look at what to do if you don’t get into your dream school.

Feel What You Need to Feel

First and foremost, it’s okay to be disappointed. There is so much pressure on students today that not getting into the school you want can feel crushing. It’s also important to acknowledge that you’re not the only student to get rejected by a school.

Also, it’s not your fault. When college rejections occur it’s very unlikely that it was because you didn’t list an extracurricular or something else. You can do your absolute best and rejection can still occur.

It’s unfortunately fairly common practice but, the students before you got through, college dreams intact, and so can you.

Reflect and Regroup

Again, rejection isn’t your fault necessarily, there could be any number of reasons outside your control that led to the final decision. That being said, it’s not a bad idea to go back over your application materials such as your essay, and ensure everything looks solid. Once you’ve done that it’s time to take a look at what moves you can make.

“Approximately 67% of African-American students are accepted by the most selective universities, ten percentage points less than their white counterparts at 77%, underlines the existence of a racial gap in higher education acceptance rates.”

– Dec 20, 2023 | GitNux.org

Consider Other Options

The most obvious alternative is to apply to other schools. Just because you didn’t get your first choice doesn’t mean you won’t get in anywhere else. Start by taking the school you wanted and do some research, see what schools offer similar programs and specializations, and use that to factor into your plan. Additionally, many universities provide “rolling” admissions where applications will be accepted throughout the summertime. Outside of that, here are a couple of alternatives:

Community College

There are several reasons why you should consider attending a community college first.

  • Cost – The cost of attending a community college is often far cheaper than attending a public or private state university. This will allow you to get all your general education credits while owing significantly less in student debt.
  • Ease of Transfer – Many community colleges offer a “preferred pathway” method of transfer into major 4-year institutions with significantly lower entry requirements. For example, to be considered for acceptance into The Ohio State University incoming freshman must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. However, if you attend Columbus State Community College and transfer to Ohio State all you need is a 2.0 GPA. This practice is fairly common among state colleges, just ask admissions at your community college of choice.
  • Easier Adjustment to College Life – Transitioning to college life can be difficult. For the first time, you’re running your own schedule without anyone telling you where to go, when to be there, or checking in on you. Community colleges are great because oftentimes the campuses are smaller and easier to navigate, additionally, class sizes are usually smaller too, allowing you to get help from the professor far more easily.
  • Easier to Plan for the Future – It’s not uncommon for a student to go into college with a major in mind, and find themselves unsure if it’s right for them. Many students change their majors as they go through college and discover their sense of identity and authenticity. Attending a community college allows you to gain the same level of exposure without having to decide on a major right away.

Take a Gap Year

First, it’s important to realize that when it comes to college, no one gets a medal for finishing first. Speeding to graduation is a common practice but those that do ultimately end up regretting it. That’s why we recommend taking a gap year. You can use this time to consider your future carefully, work and boost your income, or take on a work program or internship. This experience can be vital to your overall personal growth as well as show future employers that you are busy in your year off.

One word of warning, it can be hard to jump into school after a year off. This is a common trap for many students that take a gap year which then becomes another year off, followed by another year off, etc. Make sure you make a plan after your gap year for your education or future career.

Reach Out for Support

Never underestimate the power of a support network. Reach out to family, friends, and mentors. They can provide advice, comfort, and perspective. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey.

Try Again

Don’t let a college rejection deter you from your dreams. If attending a specific college is your dream, then try again. It’s not uncommon for students to reapply after a rejection. Additionally, you can consider other colleges, community colleges, or take a gap year.

In conclusion, college rejection is not the end of the world. It’s just a detour on the road to your dreams. Remember, every setback is a setup for a comeback. You’re capable, you’re deserving, and you’ve got this!


By: Rob Shield, Numerade.com

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