When the Decision is No…

Choosing the right college or university is a difficult process for many students and their families; so many factors have to be considered (affordability, distance from home, campus environment, just to name a few). Many students are then left with the task of narrowing down their admissions offers to the final campus that they will call home for the next four years.

I want to address the students who are grappling with the letters that regret to inform them they have not been selected to the universities of their choice. For many of you who are facing this, it is the first time you have experienced what feels like real rejection. It is an uncomfortable and overwhelming feeling. While I know there is little that can be said to immediately relieve this, there are important things to keep in mind as you navigate this experience.

Give yourself the space to process and feel upset. In a previous blog post, I talk about the importance of celebrating others when they receive good news. It is just as important that you make time to work through the emotions you feel and allow yourself to be disappointed. Acknowledging and sitting with the emotion you are feeling is really the most effective way to move forward. 

Resist the urge to call the Admissions office. In the majority of cases, an admissions officer will not be able to give you a concrete reason for denial into their incoming class. This is because application review processes are much more complex than a simple “you needed a better grade in Algebra 2” or “we wanted more community service hours” answer. Unless you have a very compelling reason to request further review (and this reason or circumstance was not already stated in your original application), or the college has encouraged you to be in touch with them, I would not recommend calling. It only prolongs the frustration and disappointment.

Your academic future is far from over. There are many options if you do not get into your university of choice. Taking a “gap” year has become a common experience after high school, and some of the best college applications I have read were from gap year students whose passions and educational goals were discovered during that time. Spending time at a community college and re-applying as a transfer student is a legitimate option as well.

Whatever direction you choose to take, do not give up. What feels like a setback now is really just a different  path leading you exactly where you are meant to be.

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