How to Handle College Rejection

Many high school students are dealing with emotional stress and grief as the receive college decision results that may not be the ones they hoped for. Recently, a few high schools have reported students’ suicides due to the pressure and depression from a college rejection. While receiving a college admissions result is a pivotal moment in a student’s life, it is also extremely important to ensure that you stay healthy and safe even when decisions are unfortunate. As tomorrow marks the beginning of “Ivy Day” and the release of many other college decision results, we want to provide you with some advice to help you cope with college rejection.

  1. Prepare for the worst. While you naturally would want the best possible result, try to emotionally prepare for the worst potential outcome.

  2. Don’t be narrow-minded -- Be more open-minded. Many students suffer from emotional depression from college rejections because they focus specifically on one or two schools that they “must” get into. College decisions are very relative, and each application is viewed subjectively. Try looking at some other college choices that can also potentially be a wonderful choice for personal and intellectual growth. This may make the process of getting over your college rejection easier.

  3. Try to distract yourself. Surround yourself with people who care about you and/or occupy your time with activities, hobbies, and passions. Don’t let a college rejection get in the way of your social life. Try not to have your mind occupied by the rejection. When you spend time with the people you love and the activities you enjoy, you will likely be less affected by the emotional burden of the rejection overtime.

  4. Focus on yourself, not others. Imposter syndrome is very common among high school students, especially when college decisions start coming around. Remember that someone else’s results do not affect yours, and someone else’s college choice may not be the best fit for you. Each student has a different personality, level of work ethic, social/diversity preference, location/weather preference, and/or field of interest. Not everyone will thrive under a certain college environment, and ranking does NOT determine overall success.

  5. Don’t take the rejection personally. The reviewing process of college applications is very subjective. Many colleges just happen to need a certain type of student, but it does not necessarily mean that you are not a great student. Colleges mainly look for the right FIT (hence why so many colleges have a “why college X” essay). Don’t necessarily look at the rejection as a bad thing. You may be very emotionally attached to a certain school because of the social environment, prestige, program, opportunities, etc., but perhaps it just wasn’t the right fit for you. This could be your opportunity to match with a difference choice that would be better for you in the long-term.

  6. Know that it’s okay to feel sad. College is an important part of a student’s next step in life, so naturally, rejection from a desired college may feel disheartening. Don’t feel like feeling sad about a rejection is a bad thing, and let out sadness if you need to (crying is okay!). Just remember that there will always be good and bad days, and your rejection will not determine your fate. It’s completely normal to feel heartbroken, but please ensure that you stay healthy and safe as bright days will come soon!

  7. Don’t be blinded by the prestige factor. Many students tend to be extremely hurt from a rejection because it is a top-school that is very good for a certain program or major. That college could be very renowned in your community, but a few months into college, the “prestige factor” will gradually disappear. No one will care that you went to college X instead of college Y because what matters most is how much you’re getting out of the college you’re going to and your personal growth. Try not to worry too much about what other people may think or say. A certain college will not guarantee a certain job opportunity; opportunities are never fed to you on a silver-spoon.

  8. It will all be okay in the end. So many students come back to us saying that the school that they currently attend, which was not necessarily their top choice before, ended up being such a great fit for them. Try to maintain an optimistic attitude moving toward the future. If you remain pessimistic, you may miss out on opportunities that a certain college has waiting for you.

In the end, a rejection will not determine your fate and your future. It is the right attitude and determination that will determine your future success. If you maintain an optimistic attitude and put in effort into whatever you’re doing, success with await for you on the other side.

What to Do After You've Been Accepted into College