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Dealing with College Rejection

Just beyond the joy of Christmas and with the promise of spring in the air lies the day that every student dreads—Ivy Day. As college letters go out, many students will have to face the rejection of not being accepted into the school of their dreams.

It’s tough—receiving one of those dreaded rejection letters can be devastating and can really affect a student’s confidence. Almost 41% of students who start college won’t finish according to the US Department of Education. That’s why rebuilding confidence that may be rocky after college rejection is essential to success. Here are some tips for getting your student over a college rejection.

College Acceptance is not a Measure of Self Worth

From the start of the college application process, prepare your student for all possible outcomes. Reinforce the fact that a rejection letter does not mean that they are not good enough. Ensure that their sense of confidence is rooted in things other than external validation.

It’s not You, It’s Us

Each university has a persona; an atmosphere that pervades its walls and is determined in no small part by its location. This means that while you may have an outstanding student, if they aren’t going to fit in, the school will give their spot to someone who is more likely to succeed. This means that perhaps your student is too ambitious for the small-town setting of a university or perhaps they are overlooked for someone who would make a more valuable contribution to a sports team.

Don’t Take it Personally

This may sound like something that’s easier said than done, but it’s true. ABC news reported that, in 2007, Harvard received 23,000 freshman applications for 2,058 spots. Always have a plan B so that if your student isn’t accepted into the college of their dreams, they have a second and even third choice to fall back on. Getting a few acceptance letters will help to ease the pain of rejection.

Never Give Up

Some universities offer an appeals process for rejected applications. However, these will focus on applications that contained errors, like  incorrect test scores or missing documents. If you appeal, you need to bring something to the table like a better letter of recommendation or some new achievements since your last application.

While your student may find that their second-choice school becomes their favorite place in the world, if their heart is still set on going to a particular college, they can focus on working really hard over their first year in college. They can then apply to transfer after each semester as the numbers thin, there may just be space for them!

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