The day started out so well. You woke up on time, breezed through your classes, and hung out with your friends. Then your trip to the mailbox sabotaged everything thanks to a college admissions rejection letter.
Don’t worry—you’re in good company. Princeton rejected Tina Fey, M.I.T. and Villanova both passed on Tom Hanks, and Swarthmore turned down former president Barack Obama. They all survived college rejections, ultimately found the right school, and went on to great success. If they could do it, you can do it.
Think of a college rejection like an acrobat’s springboard: it helps you redirect your energy in new direction. The trick is to keep moving forward.
Start with some self-reflection
Something obviously went wrong with your application, so take a little time and consider what happened. Did your admissions contact offer any details about the rejection? Were your grades and test scores where they needed to be for the school? Did your essay need some work?
Don’t get hung up about the rejection, but see what you can learn from it. Use that information to improve your chances of getting into other schools.
Keep complaints off social media
Yes, the rejection hurts, but don’t send your broken heart on a massive social media tour. Social media posts might start off private, but it only takes one person copying and pasting your private thoughts to turn your personal mourning into a public spectacle. And once something is out there, you can’t take it back.
Better to share your sadness directly with your parents or a guidance counselor rather than telling the world. You don’t want your next college admissions counselor finding your angry rejection rant through a quick Google search.
Refocus on your next application
Channel your emotional energy into the next application you send out—and then the one after that. Just because one school turned you down doesn’t mean you’re stuck at home. There’s a school for you out there. You just need to find it.
Use the things you learned during your self-reflection to make your next group of applications really shine. Expand your essay, recheck everything for possible errors, and put your best possible application out there. You’ve got this.
Consider schools with rolling or late admission
If it took a while for the school to reply to you or if you’re just a little far along in the admission season, consider looking at a school with rolling or late admission. In a rolling admission school (like us), you can apply any time up to the first day of the new semester.
Depending on how the schools in your state handle transfer credits, you could also start studying at a regional university campus or community college and then try to transfer into your preferred school in the future. (Or you might discover that you like the learning environment there and stay around for your whole degree.)