Saturday, July 13, 2024

5 Helpful Tips on How to Bounce Back From College Rejection

College rejection may sting, but it's not the end of the world.

The sting of college rejection can feel like the end of the world, and it’s dangerously easy to slip into depression when you think your future is lost. But trust us, it’s not the end. While it’s okay to grieve about what could’ve been, there’s always something better ahead, and these five practical tips can help you handle college rejection like a champ. 💪

READ MORE: Early Action vs Early Decision: What’s the Difference?

1. Acknowledge Your Feelings 💭

A female high school senior lying anxiously on her bed after receiving the news of college rejection
College rejection can be hard to take, especially if you’re the type to equate your identity with academic achievements. So, be gentle with yourself, sleep, and get back up again. Photo: Freepik

Being rejected by a school you favor is painful, so it’s absolutely okay to pause and mourn the news. But if you’ve managed to pick yourself up and face what you’re feeling head-on, you’d be surprised at how much you’ll grow.

In the meantime, bawl your eyes out, write in your journal what makes the college rejection sting, talk to a parent or a mentor, or take long walks to clear your mind and sort your emotions. 💭

2. Don’t Take It Personally 👍

After letting your feelings out, it’s important to accept that their decision isn’t a personal attack against you. US colleges have an average acceptance rate of 68 percent, and it’s even more competitive with Ivy League schools like Harvard and Stanford. 🫨 

College admissions committees pick students who stand out, but many impressive college applications may still not make the cut based on specific metrics (check out an MIT admissions committee member’s thoughts on the selection process). A college rejection letter does not and will not reflect your worth, abilities, or potential.

With this, it’s wise to apply to a variety of at least four to eight schools that offer better chances of acceptance. ✉️

READ MORE: What Do Colleges Look For? 11 Ways to Stand Out to Admissions Committees

3. Focus on Opportunities for Growth 🌱

A female non-traditional learner wearing headphones while working on her vision board
Create a vision board to inspire you to find other ways to achieve your goals despite whatever life may throw at you. Photo: Freepik

When life throws you lemons, make something good out of it. Think of college rejection as redirection instead of dead-end failure; there may be multiple reasons why it didn’t work out, but you have plenty of options. 

Take a gap year doing meaningful activities, explore trade school, attend community college, or focus on finding the right college that accepts you. Who knows, you might be pleased to be enrolled in one that’s a better fit than your dream college. ✨

Good to know: Top universities like Stanford and the University of Michigan value diversity, where each student contributes something meaningful based on personal experiences. So, explore your interests and develop unique qualities in high school or during a gap year.

For example, if you’re a writer who advocates an eco-friendly lifestyle, volunteering for the right causes and publishing articles can boost your college application. 

4. Pursue an Appeal or Transfer💡

Can’t stop thinking about what would’ve been? Crafting an appeal or planning a college transfer are a couple of ways to find your way into your dream college. 

Approach the college admissions office for reconsideration to be admitted into another program. If the school policy allows this arrangement, highlight your qualifications and commitment to the next school.

TIP: Check for factual errors the admissions committee might have missed in your application or whether there’s new information about you that could strengthen your appeal.

Alternatively, aim to become a transfer student instead. Apply to a two-year college with recognized credits (or an articulation agreement) with your target university.

READ MORE: How to Choose Your College Major: The Complete Guide

5. Lean on Your Support System 🫂

A family of five bonds by singing and playing the ukelele outdoors to comfort their teenage child who received news of college rejection
One of the best college rejection tips includes a fun family bonding activity that serves as a positive distraction and reminder of what matters most. Photo: Freepik

Just like how you share good news with people you love, don’t be afraid to break the bad news. Real friends and family members who’ve had their fair share of rejections can make you feel less alone. 

Ask them about what they felt and what they did after receiving the same news of college rejection or when they faced big setbacks. You might find a nugget of inspiration or view rejections as a normal and natural part of the way to success. 

Your loved ones who know your situation can give you the comforting hug you need, check on your progress, or help you celebrate small wins, too. 🥳


Finding the right college can take time and may include some obstacles. But how you handle college rejection is what matters most — your experience can even become that special element that gets you accepted into the right school or pushes you to greater heights. ✨

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