A step-by-step guide to handle the stages of grief that come along with a rejection letter.
As the second semester approaches for the last time in high school, seniors begin to simultaneously see their dreams come true and their hopes crushed right in front of their eyes. Colleges send out exhilarating acceptance letters, but even more dreaded rejection letters. Inevitably, everyone will face the hopelessness and despair of college rejections, but everyone will eventually get over it and recover from the loss. Here are some steps to handle a rejection letter:
- Validate your feelings: It’s normal to feel discouraged when rejected, even when the college you applied to was a reach school. Putting in all your energy and resources only to see your dream school’s regret in informing you of your rejection hurts, and feeling hurt is normal.
- Vent to a trusted friend or family member: It’s a good idea to let go of any strong emotions. Telling someone about how you feel might help you feel less alone. Additionally, they might be able to point out solutions, remind you of what you may have missed in your application, and how making an effort counts.
- Treat yourself for trying: Spend time with people you like, eat food you enjoy, or watch an episode of your favorite show. It may help take your mind off of some of the stress.
- Get some rest: Don’t stay up all night looking at admissions stats or watching acceptance reaction videos. To recover in a healthy way, don’t lose sleep over an institution not recognizing your value.
- Recognize the reasons out of your control for rejection: College rejections and acceptances are often based on luck or circumstances out of your control. Admissions officers often reject and accept students for no particular reason. Their mood, biases, and comparisons could determine an acceptance or rejection. You might have been up against legacy students, students with connections, or rich families paying their way in.
- Improve where you might have fallen short: IF you still have additional applications, proofread your essays and make sure everything you need is submitted on time. The more you apply to colleges and programs, the more rejections, but also acceptances you will have.
- Trust the timing of your life: Change is the only constant in life. We can’t control everything that gets thrown on our paths, but we can learn to adapt and go with the flow. There’s only so far you can look into the future, so do the next right thing, and you will eventually end up somewhere right for you. The prestige, price, or exclusivity of a university do not determine how beneficial it will be for you. College is defined by what you make of it.