Handling Rejection

Jaadyyah Shearrion ’20, Cambridge Rindge and Latin School

What’s up, I’m back again. I know some of you have already gotten your acceptance letters from ED schools, I also know that some of you haven’t gotten the response you wanted from those ED schools. I applied to Wellesley College, a very competitive all women’s liberal arts school, as an early decision student. Sadly, I wasn’t accepted and I’m pretty sure I didn’t leave my house that entire weekend. I thought my dreams of going to college were over. I’m telling you now, it’s okay to initially be upset.

To get myself out of that funk I gave myself a pep talk about how that college wasn’t ready for me yet, they need time to get used to the idea of me. After my super dope pep talk, I started to distance myself from college. I unfollowed all their social media accounts and threw away all the evidence that I was interested in the college. Once those steps have concluded, I would suggest talking to someone. I definitely needed a shoulder to cry on, maybe you won’t need someone to bawl your eyes out like me, but it’s very relieving to talk to someone about this. 

I know it’s definitely hard not to take the decision personally. You might think that whoever looked at your application obviously didn’t look hard enough. And maybe they didn’t. But it’s not the end of the world, trust me! 

Hopefully, you’ve made a strong list of potential colleges that you’ve also applied to. If not, some colleges do have a super late application date, like December 30th, while some even go into January. It never hurts to have some kind of a back-up plan, and then a back-up plan for that back-up plan. For example,

  • Get excited about your other schools. Maybe they see the real you and will be a better fit anyway.
  • Reapply next year. It may be just as hard to get in then, but it’s worth a try. And it gives you a chance to amp up your profile and application.
  • Remember that you can transfer later. If you still want to attend your dream school, you have the option of trying to transfer in, down the road.

Though rejection does hurt, take it in stride. I definitely took my rejection hard, but I took my time to process it, and now I feel like I’m ready to move on from the college that didn’t accept my love. 

No matter what you choose to do, take care to remind yourself that getting rejected doesn’t mean you’re a bad student or that your application was horrendous. It just means that the school could only admit so many people, and you happened to not be one of them.

Even though the college admissions process can feel like an uphill battle, just know that you’re definitely not alone. As we say at my alma mater, “Fight on!”

Next Steps after Rejection

Sometimes, in the college application process, you aren’t going to get the answer you want. It can feel awful, especially after all the work you put into your essay, supplemental writing, and classes in general. But you can and will move forward. You just need to take the time to breathe, think, and take the next step in the process.

Take care of yourself

Whether you want to admit it or not, you’re probably dealing with some pretty negative emotions after getting rejected. That is totally, 100%, absolutely normal and valid. Let yourself process those emotions, however works best for you. Watch a movie. Eat ice cream. Go for a run. Scream into a pillow. Pause and let yourself feel whatever you’re feeling. Then, once you feel better, you can move on.

Take stock

Where else did you apply? Are there still schools accepting applications? Are there colleges you applied for that want to interview you? Lay out all of your options, because you still have plenty. 

Reflect

What did you like best about the school you applied to ED or EA? Was it the environment, the academic programs, or the location? You can use this information to decide which of the other colleges on your list might still be a great fit for you. Many colleges offer similar programs and opportunities, so while you might have loved certain qualities in the one school you didn’t get into, don’t think you can’t find a comparable experience somewhere else. 

Be positive

The one thing you can control in this process is your outlook. If you interview with other schools but make it very clear that they weren’t your first choice, they might not take that very well. There is still so much to look forward to no matter what school you end up at. Look for the bright side and focus on that.

Be yourself

Any school you get into is lucky to have you. You are a uniquely individual person and student that has a lot to offer. Figure out how your interests and passions can be displayed at the schools you get into, and own up to it. Will you be the best player on their team? The star of the show? An incredible artist or Dean’s List student? At the end of the day, college is what you make of it. Even if you aren’t at your dream school, you can still find outlets to be yourself and do something incredible at any college or university.

Rejection is hard, and this likely isn’t the last time you’ll have to deal with it in your life. But you can learn and grow from it, just like everything else. Don’t rush into the next opportunity without letting yourself feel sad or mad or disenchanted, but know that there are so many amazing chances just beyond this.