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How to handle rejection

With college decisions coming out, I'm facing a lot of back-to-back rejection from schools... it's brutal this year. I'm wondering what are some ways you've dealt with it (or deal with it, if you're also getting college rejection letters)?

Obviously, I got rejected from my dream school and it feels like the end of the world. How do you reassure yourself that you'll do fine even if you don't go to the top school? What are some ways to pick yourself up?

+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

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11 answers


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Giavanna’s Answer

Hey Steph! I am sorry for what you are going through, I am sure you had your sights set on that school and probably feel a bit confused about what you should do now. First of all, breathe, your journey is not over. You're putting way too much unnecessary pressure on yourself. It's important to separate yourself from this experience. This experience does not define who you are as a person, nor does the school you end up getting into. Getting into college is tough, especially now, but it's important to look at the big picture and focus on the ultimate goal. College is not your ultimate goal, it's there to help you reach your goal. Focus on the career you want to pursue and do what you need to get there.

Sidenote: Most employers don't even ask what college you went to, they just care that you have the credentials to do the job.
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John’s Answer

There’s no question about it Stephanie. A rejection letter feels very personal. Even though many of the top universities are overwhelmed with applications and must reject good students, it doesn’t lessen the hurt if that happens to be you. Anyone who has been through a major disappointment knows that it can often lead to new personal strength and an increased capacity for problem-solving. Take time to grieve over the rejection, but then think about what’s next. Make a plan and take action.

In the bigger picture, which school you attend has less to do with success than you might think. If you want to have a positive college experience, Don't worry about what college you get into or don’t get into and more about doing your best at the college that values your contribution. Whatever college accepts you, see it as people and ideas that will lead you to a great life, the sky’s the limit. You never know in the grand scheme of things if a smaller, less prestigious college could be the perfect place for you. You can get a good, if not better, education from some of the less known or less popular colleges. It’s not about which college you attend, but more about the fact that you do attend college and you commit to making the most of the opportunity.

Stephanie the journey to and through the college experience molds you into the person you will be, let it take you to surprising places and find joy in what happens next.
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Evangeline’s Answer

Stephanie, just as others have said, keep standing and keep trying. Rejections can feel like the rug is being pulled out from under you in such a way that you are left floundering. However, rejections are also some of the best ways to learn about how we can improve and how the world views us.

Take a look at those specific applications for colleges, is there an element that you are missing that they are looking for? While it may feel uncomfortable, reach out to the college and ask what part of your application didn't fit their criteria. After all, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. While you may not get to resubmit to this same university, their feedback can help mold the other applications you are in the process of writing.

Overall, I would say the most important thing would be to view rejection in a different way. Failing or being rejected does not define who we are. It's easy to measure our milestones in successes, but our failures are the moments that push us to grow and adapt. Each rejection opens the door to the biggest room in the world, the room for improvement. While this whole concept sounds purely "glass half full," that's not a bad thing. Thinking about rejections and failures as moments you experience rather than just overcome will change how we look at ourselves and how we view 'success'.
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Cameron’s Answer

Hi Stephanie!

I have been in your shoes and have felt your doubts and that crushing rejection from a school that I really wanted to go to. When I was applying to law schools, I had my heart set on Duke University, UNC, and William and Mary as three schools I really wanted to attend. I applied to all three, along with University of Virginia and a handful of others (including the one I eventually attended, the University of Missouri). My first response from any law school was from Duke University. It was a kindly worded rejection that tried to assure me that there were too many applicants to let us all matriculate and that there were just more qualified candidates. I was absolutely gutted. I had visited the campus and imagined myself stopping in at the cathedral, walking through the halls, and perusing the library. Those dreams were ripped away in that moment and my confidence was shaken. As the weeks went by, I received more rejections from other schools, but none hit me like the first one from Duke did.

What you feel is valid and normal and we all experience it. Ultimately, the difference between going to a top rated school and going to a less prestigious school is pretty minor in terms of career outlook for most people. There are some employers and careers that will have more open doors for Ivy League graduates, but in most cases, employers (in my experience) are looking for whether or not you obtained a degree, what honors you received doing so, and what internships/externships or other practical experience you received.

So, from an advice standpoint, I would take a look at the other schools you have considered, find some programs or clubs or other benefits they have going for them and adjust your plans to incorporate those newfound upsides. There's nothing wrong with feeling rejected. Just know that your future isn't imperiled. In the long run, a rejection from a school is a minor setback in the big scheme of things. Keep your chin up and keep trying.
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Lisa’s Answer

Hi, Stephanie!
I can feel your pain, vulnerability and honesty in your question. Oh man, rejectionS hurt like no one can explain. Rejection feels like being blindsided, losing something, and it is embarrassing and it’s something I have learned to grieve. I have learned to sit in that pain and my hurt pride for a moment and in the realization that those dreams I had about that job, school or partner in life are not to be or maybe it’s not in the way I was hoping for.

With that said, and once I give myself that space for a short minute to grieve, I realize that my dream is still mine to keep; I am still the one creating and defining my dreams- not my rejectionS or my schools. I get to decide how that next moment will be. I realize that I am hurt and disappointed but not broken. I am the holder and keeper of my own dreams. No school, person or thing has that power over me or my dreams and please don’t give your away that power to anyone.

Finally, what you do as you pursue closure for this moment is very important and it is completely up to you. You can allow these rejections to eclipse every good thing that will come into your life, and you color these good things as not good enough or not as good as XYZ. Or, you can decide that you will FIGHT for your dreams regardless of that school or person or thing that tried to convince you that you weren’t good enough or weren’t the best. If you can do this, you would have learned the secret to success for the rest of your life. You will be ahead of many of your peers who have never failed at anything and never built the coping mechanisms adults need to push past these moments of terrible pain.

For me, I am a person of faith and I always ask God to lead me where He wants me. So, I often see these disappointments as His providence over my life and as His guidance and protection. I always askGod to open doors where He sees me thriving and close doors where it’s not right for me. Do I always like the answer, oh, heck no! It hurts! But, as a person of faith, I trust God’s direction for my life.

So Stephanie, you can most certainly move on or try again later as a transfer student or graduate student. As long as you are not doing it to prove something or nurse some old wounds. You may end up loving your new school as well, so don’t short yourself a great opportunity to grow. Whatever you decide, if you hold on to your dreams as not being denied but deferred, then you would have learned how to PUSH and FIGHT for whatever you want in this life.

Your heart will smile again!
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Jacquelyn’s Answer

I like to think of it as redirection instead of rejection. Although it may feel like the end of the world now, soon you'll realize that everything happens for a reason, and when one door closes another one opens -- one that is meant for you. These are definitely cliché phrases, but they're clichés because they're true! It's all about your mindset, so having a positive view will lead you in the right direction.
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Carlos E’s Answer

Based on my own expereince with 15 applications, you are not alone. We all have gone through it. Do not despair. Of course there is some shame, but it helps to share the experience with your firends. Do not take it personal. Colleges have formulas that they need to follow.

If you did not get in the first time, you can try again as a transfer student. You could go to commuity college for a year or two and then apply to yoru dream school. Your acceptance chances will be far greater.
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Yong-Er’s Answer

Hi Stephanie! I am really sorry that you are going through this, and I can understand how it feels like it is the end of the world. Dealing with rejection can be very difficult, and it is totally alright to feel this way. While this rejection feels very painful now, I promise that there are many other ways you will be able to succeed. An example you can do would be to enroll in a community college for the first year, then apply to transfer to your dream school the next year. Another example would be to take a gap year; taking this gap year to work, volunteer, or gain new experiences can be helpful for your mental health and can offer another opportunity to apply to your dream school. There are many more examples of what you could choose to do, but regardless of what you decide, there will always be a way with a positive mindset.
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Nicole’s Answer

Hi Stephanie, first off don't doubt yourself and your potential there are plenty of options even outside of the choice you've chosen do not limit yourself and expand your horizon to different places, and you can always try next year. do not over think the situation, take it in and feel it but keep your head up and continue on forward. If you want to know why you got rejected you can always email them or go to them personally, always take the feedback and apply it to your work or life.
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Kim’s Answer

Stephanie, it’s really a great question that you’ve asked and all of us have had the experience of rejection or disappointment in not being successful at something. You will experience this many times over the course of your academics, profession and personal life and it really can make you stronger. It’s just something that happens and it makes you pause and re evaluate your plan or position in whatever you’re doing. I agree with previous responders. In the case of not getting into the school you wanted, try to find out what aspects of your application you can strengthen. Or maybe re-looking at all the options there’s another school that has some benefits you didn’t recognize the first time around. See if you can take a step back and do not take it as criticism of you as a person.
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Rebecca’s Answer

Hi Stephanie, don't give up! You can try again next year. Or, there are other alternatives. I do not see what levels you are currently at. I guess you are a high school student and received the rejection from college. It does not imply you cannot have excellent achievement even if you do not enter the top schools.
Firstly, you can find out what is the reason you might get the rejection. Is it academic result, interview performance, etc.?
If it is academic performance, would you consider to repeat the final year high school or attend the public exam again in the coming year? Alternatively, would you consider to apply for the community college? If you can try your best to achieve good result, then you apply for the 2nd year of your dream schools.
If it is the interview performance, you can consider to take an offer of your 2nd choices colleges first. Then, you can practise your interview skills and make application to the dream schools again next year. You still have to work hard in the college to achieve good academic result in order to gain interview opportunities again.
Having said that, not entering your dream schools is not the end of the world. There are also other good schools but may not as popular as the one as you dream schools. You can consider other good schools which is also strong on the subject that you have interest on. You can consider to complete the 1st degree and apply your dream school for post graduate studies.
Good Luck! Hope this helps!
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