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What to do when you're denied from your top colleges?

I've recently been denied from my reach schools and a few of my safety schools. I've applied to a couple more but at this point it's hard to get scholarships from those schools since i've applied too late. However, i've been accepted to two small private liberal arts schools but they're not exactly what i'm looking for in a school.

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Jacob’s Answer

Hi, Hannah,

I was in a similar situation my senior year of high school. I only applied to four schools and was rejected by three of them (in fact, I got all three rejection letters on the same day). I know it seems like you are facing an uphill battle right now, but hang tough. I did not think the last school I applied to was the right fit for me, but that is where I ended up going and I had an incredible four years there. You are the master of your college experience. You get out of it what you put into it. I think that the school you actually go to is not nearly as important as most people think in terms of how much someone enjoys college. The friends you make and experiences you have during those four years will determine how satisfied you are with your college experience. Based on the background information you put in your question, here are some things for you to consider:

1) What are you actually looking for in a school? Why don't those liberal arts schools fit the bill? Can you start at one of those schools and transfer somewhere else?

2) If those two liberal arts schools are not where you want to start, would you consider completing some prerequisite requirements at a community college and then applying to four year schools for the following academic year?

3) What do you ultimately want to do for your career? I did not consider that question nearly enough when I chose my major. I highly recommend you check out the career guide I linked below. It is lengthy, but very interesting and absolutely worth the read. Try knocking out one section a day and you will be done in no time.

As Conan O'Brien once said, "No one in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen." Now is not the time for discouragement, Hannah. Now is the time for introspection, hard work, and embracing challenges.

I hope this helps and very sincerely wish you the best of luck. Do not hesitate to reach out - I'm always happy to help.

Jacob recommends the following next steps:


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Max’s Answer

It can certainly be discouraging when you receive those letters, but don't stop applying! I was in a similar position coming out of high school - my friends were even getting set up with their living situations already and I didn't have any schools interested in me at the moment. I kept having to tell myself that everything happens for a reason and low and behold I was accepted into one of the "safety schools" in my mind. It ended up being an amazing college experience.

Another thing to keep in mind is a transfer. You can start at a community or state school, get solid grades for a semester or two, then transfer into the college of your dreams. Your pride may take a hit but at least you didn't give up!

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Rachel’s Answer

One option may be to attend a community college for your first year, get a 4.0 GPA and then reapply to your top schools.

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Richard’s Answer

Make the best of your situation. Whichever college you ultimately attend can open doors for you. Work hard, get good grades, make connections with other people pursuing the same career as you.

Who knows what the future holds? You may get into graduate school at one of your "reach" schools. Or you may find that those schools don't really deserve their reputation and be satisfied at the institution you ultimately choose.

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Sam’s Answer

The best advice I get students is that it doesn't matter where you start but what you do when you get there. It's difficult not getting admitted to your top school of choice, but it appears you can always transfer after building up a solid college level foundation.