What’s Next After a College Rejection Letter?

All your high school has been culminating towards getting into the college of your dreams. You have worked hard to make sure your application stands out. Securing good grades and building a portfolio with carefully curated extra-curricular activities. You got your applications sent well in time and now all that’s left to do is wait for the acceptance letter. Except you end up getting a college rejection letter instead.

Isolating as it may seem, the first thing to remember about admissions rejection is that you’re not alone and academic setbacks happen. Many people have received college rejection letters and managed to move on and continue with their alternate plan. An admissions rejection may in fact turn out to be a good thing as perhaps you’ll realize that plan B worked out better for you. Maybe you didn’t get into your target school but got accepted into other schools that may prove to be a better fit.

The second thing to remember is that it is not personal. A lot goes into a university’s decision to admit a student and sometimes it can be just a numbers thing. It could be that the university simply received too many applications. Other reasons for possible admissions rejection could include a low GPA or SAT score or perhaps a documentation error. The important thing to remember is not to dwell on the reasons for the college rejection but to move on.

Moving on can come in many forms but first, it’s also okay to let yourself wallow. Allow yourself time to grieve, acknowledge your feelings, and then move on.

Your next step can entail any one of the following:

  1. Alternative College Options: Choosing a school that you did get accepted to but one that perhaps was not your first choice. It can turn out to be the best thing for you as the program could be better suited to your future aspirations. 
  2. Gap Year Considerations: Alternatively, you can take a gap year. Use it to build up your profile or consider academic improvement strategies. Perhaps retake your SAT if your scores were not great the last time around or take up internships or jobs that can help build your extra-curricular activities – something US colleges take very seriously. You can also consider retaking classes to build up your grades. Remember it’s not enough to target the lowest acceptable scores but rather look at the overall average grades. The good thing is that you can reapply to the college you initially received a rejection letter from without it being held against you.
  3. Higher Education Pathways: If you still have time, you can consider applying to more colleges with later deadlines. They may not be your first choice but may be the only choice you’re comfortable with. The good thing about US colleges is that they give transfer opportunities, meaning you have the option to transfer to another school later on.

The College Appeal Process: Another route you can take, which may or may not yield results is appeal the rejection. Each college has a different policy on appeals and you would need to look at the particular college you’re interested in. Most colleges will also give you a timeframe to appeal within. The letter of appeal should ideally include new information that wasn’t in your original application. These could be updated test scores, a higher GPA or a new extra-curricular activity.

One way to improve your chances of acceptance is to consult with an educational counseling service like Eye on Ivy. These are professionals dedicated to breaking the code to what colleges require and helping their clients get into their target and even reach schools.

Author, Fatima Burki

Fatima Burki is a graduate of the University of Sussex in the UK. A former editor at The Daily Times in Lahore and research editor at Imagination Publishing in Chicago, with 20 years of experience in writing and editing, Fatima currently works with students as an editor at Eye on Ivy.

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