Ah, that lovely time of year when you receive the news: You didn’t get in.
What am I going to do?! Where do I go from here?! No school will ever want me!
You can see how things spiral out of control pretty fast. So friends when that rejection comes this year don’t let it drag you down into a vortex of self-pity. Keep in mind the following things to make sure you are prepared to conquer rejection.
- It isn’t personal: Not getting selected doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. It doesn’t mean you aren’t smart enough or likable enough. It means that particular school had more smart likable people apply than they had space for. End of story.
- IT ISN’T PERSONAL!: Sound familiar? I wasn’t sure you truly let it sink in as the truth yet. Colleges are under an immense amount of pressure to fill out their classes as a whole. Maybe you didn’t get in because they really needed that Tuba or Water Polo player. Maybe Harvard didn’t have room for you because Malia Obama already took that spot. If there is one thing I can guarantee you about the college selection process, it is that you will always lose to Malia Obama. These are things you clearly can’t take personally.
- Don’t try to understand it: Many a student has driven themselves absolutely bonkers trying to find out why they weren’t accepted. It isn’t productive, and honestly you’ll rarely find an answer. Now I am a full believer of learning from your mistakes. If you wrote the wrong school name in your essay I can tell you right now, THAT is why you didn’t get in. Learn from it and don’t make that mistake next time. But this is so rarely the case that you can’t go through your entire application with a fine tooth comb wondering if you didn’t get in because you used “who” rather than “whom”. Realize there are some things beyond your control, and do yourself a favor by not trying to control it.
- Don’t have a “top choice” school: There is no such thing as college soulmates so don’t get stressed out about missing out on anything because of one rejection. All schools have positives and negatives and absolutely no college is perfect. This is why it is important to build a balanced college list, filled with school options with a variety of acceptance likelihoods that you are excited about ALL of them. Don’t waste your time applying to a school you would never want to go to. Instead invest your time in finding multiple great options so if one doesn’t work out, you still have a lot to look forward to.
- Don’t let one rejection stop you from your goal: I’ve seen students get really disappointed about one early rejection and start dragging their feet about finishing the rest of their applications. It is only December people! Use this rejection to light a fire under you and finish all your applications to make sure you still are taking advantage of all your great options. Get out there and don’t give up!
- Treat yourself: Okay so you’ve thought about it logically and it still hurts. I get it, rejection hurts, there is no magical way around that and if you didn’t feel a little bummed out by being told “no” I might worry you were emotionally dead inside. But this isn’t the time to go to pieces. Give yourself one day, ONLY ONE, to grieve. Cry it out if you need to, binge on your comfort food, and take a well deserved nap. But then get up the next day ready to take on the world. The only way you will ever truly lose out is if you let rejection win.
Look forward to a posting soon where I tackle the dreaded wait list.