After months (or even years) of crafting the perfect application essay, prepping for the SAT, chasing down recommendation letters, and checking the mailbox every day after school, the worst case scenario has happened — you’ve been rejected by every single one of the colleges you applied to.
We know you’re disappointed, but don’t get discouraged. You still have options.
Jana Gepfert, a guidance counselor at New Haven High School outside of Fort Wayne, Ind., has helped hundreds of high school seniors pick themselves up after a complete college rejection.
And as it turns out, it’s not so uncommon. Every year, Gepfert said, around a quarter of her students don’t make it into any of the schools on their lists.
According to Gepfert, if all you received this spring were rejection letters, it’s not the end of the world. Here are three ways to recover:
#1: Take a Semester or a Year Off
Taking a “gap year” is a common practice in parts of Europe and is becoming increasingly common in the U.S., where students take a little time off before starting university. Even Malia Obama is doing it.
Students typically use this time to travel, gain some work experience, save up money, or explore their interests before committing to a school or course of study. The important thing is to do something during your gap semester or year; don’t let this time pass you by!
If you are set on a specific college and didn’t make it in this time, be sure to take steps to make your next application stand out more—take another round of SAT prep, revise your application essay, or reach out to their admissions office to see what you can do to better your chances next time.
#2: Apply to a Community College Like Ivy Tech
There are a lot of misconceptions about community colleges, but they can be extremely helpful to students who haven’t been accepted into any of the four-year colleges they applied to.
Community colleges typically accept new students all the way up to the start of a new semester. You can enroll for a semester, a year, or two years and then transfer those credits to a four-year university. Community colleges also provide “pathway programs” designed to get you started on your college journey and then help you move on to larger state schools.
#3: Look at Schools With Rolling Admissions, Like IPFW
Many Indiana state colleges and universities, like Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), continue to accept applications throughout the summer, all the way up until August when classes start. This is called rolling admissions. Your guidance counselor can help you identify other schools with rolling admissions, too.
Keep in mind, however, that while some universities will continue to accept applications for the fall throughout the summer, they may have different (earlier) deadlines for financial aid and scholarships.
So what are your next steps? What’s the most immediate thing you should do?
Gepfert makes it clear: “Talk to your guidance counselor.” Your guidance counselor can help you map out where you are, where you can go from here, and how to make it work. They have connections to admissions offices, so getting in contact with other colleges and learning about your options is just a phone call away.
And while you’re at it, consider applying to IPFW, a great local option that accepts students throughout the summer. Download the IPFW Viewbook to learn more.