college selection

Dealing with Rejection

Valentine’s Day was earlier this month, and for a lot of teenagers, it was a hard lesson in how rejection stinks. Rejection is a gut punch followed by a lingering sadness that sometimes feels like it’ll last forever and a day.

Romantic rejection isn’t the only kind. In a few weeks, hundreds of thousands of high school seniors across the country will receive the ‘thin envelope’ from their top choice college or university. “We regret to inform you that…” That’s about as far as the rejected applicant gets before the letter slips from their hands or they tear it up.

If you’re a high school senior waiting to hear back from your dream college, it’s okay to keep your hopes up in these weeks before April 1st. If you submitted a strong application portfolio, you have a good chance. By all means, fantasize of receiving an admission packet and attending the school of your dreams.

However…

Now is the time to prepare for how you’ll react in case the ‘thin envelope’ should arrive in your physical or digital mailbox. Over the next few paragraphs, we’ll discuss how planning in advance can lessen the blow and get you back on track as soon as possible.

Accept Your Feelings

In the first 24 hours after you receive a college rejection, you may feel angry, sad, frustrated, or numb. It’s normal to feel all of these things at once.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Anyway, it’s perfectly okay to feel this way, and there’s no shame in reacting however your mind is programmed to do so. If you want to show a brave face to family or friends, okay. But when you’re by yourself, just let it out. Scream, cry, rage…just don’t hurt yourself or others. 

Don’t Overanalyze It

You’ll never know why a school rejected you. You already know this fact, but if rejection should come, you’ll likely spend days wondering why it happened. Was my ACT score too low? Were my extracurriculars not impressive enough? Was….And the cycle goes around and around.

If you’re a competitive applicant, here’s the simple truth about why you didn’t get into your dream school: there just wasn’t enough room for you. It’s simple math. Too many applicants. Not enough seats.

Never forget that you were worthy. Unfortunately, so were thousands upon thousands of other applicants.

Concentrate on the Acceptances You’ve Received (or Outstanding Applications)

If your dream college should reject you, try focusing on the bigger picture. Have you received acceptances from other colleges or are waiting to receive a decision? If the answer is ‘yes’ to either part of this question, that’s what you should focus on. Either you already have a ‘bird in the hand,’ or there’s still hope. Both are positives.  

Final Thoughts

I still remember the day that my first-choice college (University of Chicago) rejected me. It was a Thursday afternoon, and I discovered the thin envelope in the mailbox. I was sad, my parents were sad for me, and I spent Friday moping around school. On Saturday I was still sad…until I opened the mailbox again and found a fat First Class envelope addressed to me, an acceptance packet from Vanderbilt University. I was ecstatic, and my mom cried with joy.

As I think back on that emotional whirlwind of a weekend, the Vanderbilt acceptance still makes me happy, but the University of Chicago rejection no longer makes me sad.

Don’t fear rejection, dear readers. Sadness fades, and wherever you attend college, I’m sure you’ll do great things. 

4 Mistakes to Avoid During the College Selection Process

You’re a Die-hard Fan

Everyone has their favorite college football or basketball program. But picking a school because you like their sports teams or because your parents went there isn’t always in your best long term interest.

After all, your college experience is about you, more specifically about what you learn that will make you a better, smarter, and happier person. Although school comradery is important, you’re not there to spend your college career in the cheering section.

 

They Specialize in your Favorite Subject:

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 80 percent of students in the United States end up changing their major at least once. On average, college students change their major at least three times over the course of their college career. No one is telling you not to follow your passion or desired career path.

However, it is important to note that you will most likely be changing your major throughout your college career. That’s why most schools give you at least a year or two before choosing a major is required.

To put things into perspective for you, I once knew a kid who chose his school based on what he thought he wanted to major in. He loved Economics in high school and wanted to attend a college that had the best Econ program that he could get into.

Two years in and he realized that this was nothing like the experience he was anticipating. He decided to change his major from Econ to a less strenuous business concentration such as Marketing or Entrepreneurship.

At that point, he began wishing he hadn’t chosen the best Economics school that he could find, but perhaps the best general business school… a school with a wider variety of strengths that he could have explored before picking his concentration.

 

Being a Follower

Whatever you do, do not follow a friend or significant other to the college of their choice. This piece of advice is very simply, yet extremely important. Remember that college is one of the most critical and momentous times of your life. Try to make the decision that is best for you and your future, not your temporary demands or desires.

Although following a friend might seem like a good idea at the time, there will come a point in your relationship where you are presented with a crossroad. Either that relationship will end which means maybe this decision was in everyone’s best interest, or become stronger, overcoming distance, as well as time.

 

Temptation of Partying

Now this potential mistake might seem obvious to avoid, but it can be a tough subconscious concept for many eager students to grasp, especially when you are looking forward to moving away from Mom and Dad and into the college environment for the first time. Actively remind yourself what your end goal is.

As you begin to make your final decision on selecting your college, remember the increase in responsibilities and decisions that you will face. Don’t compensate your future for the short term happiness that a big warm party school might provide, especially in one of the most pivotal points of your life. Because at the end of the day, these are only four years, but they’ll have an impact on each one to come. How are you going to use them?

Back to Top