Admission Denied: Coping with the Hard News

For many high school students, getting rejected from their dream college or university can be a difficult thing to swallow. In fact, it may bring feelings of heartbreak, sorrow, grief, hopelessness, and depression. If you have found yourself in a similar scenario, be assured that this is not the end of the world (as much as it might feel that way for the moment)!

Success is always within reach. If you have been denied admission to your top choice school, consider redirecting your energy so that you can move forward in a positive, productive way. Here are some of our favorite methods of coping with the hard news:

Address Your Feelings

Take time to let yourself fully feel whatever you are feeling at the moment, and accept these feelings. Pushing them aside or pretending that they aren’t there may prolong the process of moving forward. Remember that it is totally normal to feel upset, angry, and discouraged. But these feelings don’t have to last forever.

Don’t Take It Personally

Colleges and universities have a cap as to how many students they accept per year, and there are so many different factors that affect the decision process. It could be as simple as an admissions clerk being in a bad mood that day. There is so much that could have influenced the decision, so try not to beat yourself up about it! Know that you are not the only one, and there are thousands of students going through the same thing. Even many top achievers do not get into their dream school on the first try.

Did you know? Only 16% of NYU applicants were offered admission, down from 35% in 2013. Getting into college continues to get more and more competitive each year.

Talk to Someone

Keeping your feelings bottled up is usually unproductive, so it may help to confide in someone you trust, like a good friend or family member who will be supportive. You may acquire a new perspective of the new situation from loved ones, and be inspired to pursue fresh opportunities and take a different route!

Realize that Your Top Choice May Not Be the Best Choice

Have you ever considered the endless possibilities at potential back-up schools or alternative paths? There is always something good to look forward to if we go into it with the right mindset and attitude! It may be hard to picture yourself anywhere else but the “perfect college” that you have had your heart set to for many months, if not years. But the truth is, no college that does not recognize what you bring to the table is going to be the best fit for you. With so many incredible schools out there, the odds are high that you will be able to succeed elsewhere if you set yourself up for it!

Ask yourself: What was it that you loved so much about your dream school? Was it a specific academic program, geographic locale, or another aspect? Once you pinpoint a few of these desirable qualities, you can likely find similar qualities at other schools.

Keep an Open Mind

Getting rejected from your dream school doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to attend it. There’s always a chance that you could transfer to that school in the future, for example. This is not to say that you should keep your mindset to this. It’s a good idea to give it your all at the school you end up going to, even if it may not be your top choice. You never know – you might grow to love it! And if not, then you’ll know that you gave it your all and can look into other schools to potentially transfer to, that you know will be a better fit.

Be Proud of Your Efforts

Take time to reflect on your achievements thus far, and celebrate them. Often, we are too hard on ourselves and keep reaching for more without acknowledging accomplishments. As long as you have given your best shot, there should be no regrets! Continue to strive to do your best and aim high wherever you end up.

Think About How to Make the Most of the Situation

Rather than thinking that a door has closed, see it as a new door opening! Embrace this opportunity to start fresh. Once you have decided on where you’d like to attend, visit the campus and imagine yourself there. Reach out to current students or graduates to learn about their experiences. Put in the effort to build relationships with professors and teaching assistants, and bond with your roommates and classmates. Join clubs or sports that interest you. Apply for an internship to apply your studies to real-life practice. Remember that you have the power to make the best of whatever situation you put yourself in, or get into!

It’s only natural for someone to feel disheartened about getting rejected from his or her dream school. Remember that you aren’t the only one – and just like in most life situations, the outcome is often what and how we make it out to be! While there is no one right way to feel when getting difficult news, there is a right way to recover. By reframing your thinking to recognize new opportunities on a new and different road, you not only grow as a person but also set yourself up for success in the long-run!