So, You’ve Been Rejected from College


Graphic Designed by Janet Han

It’s not easy to handle being rejected from college, but it’s inevitable for many students.

Janet Han, Section Editor

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You click on the link, take in a deep breath, and brace yourself. Right away, the decision is clear. No fancy graphics, no massive “congratulations,” no elaborate video. 


Instead, a letter. 


“The Committee on Admissions has carefully reviewed your application and we are sorry to inform you that we cannot offer you a place in our class of 2024.”


And that’s it. All those hours and hours of work, pain, and indecision poured into your application just rendered worthless with one short sentence. 


Most people have a “dream school,” or a college that they have dreamed of attending- sometimes even since their elementary or middle school days. These colleges are usually big-name Ivy Leagues like Harvard or Yale, or equally top-tier colleges like Stanford or the University of Chicago. Unfortunately, these colleges also have acceptance rates as low as 4%, admitting only a select few from thousands of applications across the country.


Every year, the criteria to be accepted into such “dream schools” becomes increasingly more difficult to meet, with too many qualified students and not enough spots. Yet tens of thousands of students still submit their applications, blindly hoping that they will be among the lucky few. 


With this hope, however, comes hundreds of thousands of crushing rejections. 


There is no one way to deal with that kind of rejection. But the first step, whether it be through sobbing nightly into your pillow or going through the next few days in a heartbroken haze, is just let yourself feel. Letting out your emotions is perfectly normal and acceptable, and you have every right to do so.


Next, process the rejection. Understand that people your age across the country and internationally are going through the same frustration; thousands of people have also been rejected from the same school. And although it may seem cliche, remember that it really isn’t personal. Colleges simply don’t have the resources to admit all qualified applicants, and the rejection may have been based on random factors such as your admission officer’s mood. 


Raymond Nguyen (12) agrees, pointing out that “so much of the admissions process is up to chance that it’s not entirely personal if you don’t get in.”


Your final step is to move on. Wait for acceptances from different colleges, evaluate your other choices, and remember that life does go on. While you may have been rejected from your so-called dream school, it is still only one school among thousands. 


The college admissions process is one of hard work, frustration, and, unfortunately, constant comparison. It’s hard to avoid comparing your results with that of others your age, especially when the system itself seems designed to pit students against each other. 


However, keep in mind that happiness and success are so much more than what college you attend, and that life will lead you down the path that’s right for you. Emerge stronger from that rejection, and prepare yourself for your lifetime of opportunities.