College Rejection Letter: Some Tips for Getting Over It

To my young friends who are dejectedly licking their wounds because they received a college rejection letter from the school of their choice, or from most of the schools of their choice, I have a few things to say to you.

What teens should do if they receive a college rejection letter.
Rejection is never easy, but this too shall pass.

None of this is personal, really

None of this is personal. Colleges don’t love you or hate you. In fact, they have no feelings about you whatsoever. Colleges are businesses and they are influenced by those factors which will allow them to rise in the rankings. In any given year they may be looking for more male students or more female students, or more kids from the Midwest or the South. Or as one college admissions officer told us, you’ll get admitted if you play the oboe in a year in which they’re looking for an oboist.

The college admissions process is a game of chance where the odds of “winning” at a few schools is close to nil and where once you’ve checked the grades and standardized test score boxes, the rest is out of your hands.

[More about why college admissions is much harder than you expected here.]

Colleges don’t know the real you

What colleges know about you, they know only from a file that tells them next to nothing about who you truly are. How can they know you when you really don’t even know yourself yet? If we knew who we were at eighteen, wouldn’t that make our life a short, dull story? They don’t know how hard you’ve worked.

They don’t know that you are kind, funny, and caring with grand passions yet to be discovered. They don’t have the secret sauce that can divine for them who you will become later in life.

But, don’t fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself after you open the college rejection letter. The world is full of inequity. So what? Just by being born in this country, you have beaten the odds.

Most of you have beaten the odds by a lot more than just living in the United States. It doesn’t matter that so and so got into your dream school with lesser grades and lower test scores. At the end of the day the cream rises to the top. End. Of. Story.

If you’ve got what it takes to be successful: grit, determination and a solid work ethic, you will get where you’re going, and someday you will assuredly figure out exactly where that is.

[More about taking the sting out of college admissions disappointments here.]

If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with

Embrace the college that accepted you and embrace it enthusiastically. We, human beings are endowed with a fantastic ability to synthesize our happiness. Buy the t-shirt with the school’s logo and wear your school colors with pride. Find a roommate, pick classes that intrigue you and I guarantee that you will soon fall in love with the school that fell in love with you.

The prevailing myth that there is one right school for you is nonsense. Throw yourself into the life of your school and make it uniquely yours by giving it the benefit of your positive contributions.

Here is where you will write your story, perhaps by meeting the love of your life, or your lifelong best friend, but in whatever way you craft your tale, one day you will realize that this is the place you were meant to be all along.

More to Read:

There are so many things to learn about freshman year.Dear Parent of Newly Admitted College Freshman 

Top Twelve Dorm Shopping Mistakes 

More by Helene Wingens:

Dear Parent Freshman, You Need to Know This About Your Student

Crushing Culture of Parental Expectations

College Applications: When It’s Time for Your Kid to Decide

How a Parent Portal Undermines Kids’ Academic Success


About Helene Wingens

Helene Wingens has always been passionate about painting pictures with words. She graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in psychology and three years later from Boston University School of Law with a Juris Doctor. In a year long clerkship for an appellate judge Helene honed her writing skills by drafting weekly appellate memoranda. She practiced law until she practically perfected it and after taking a brief twenty year hiatus to raise her three children she began writing a personal blog Her essays have been published in: Scary Mommy, Kveller, The Forward, and Grown and Flown where she is Managing Editor. You can visit Helene's website here

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