My Daughter Received A Rejection Letter That Motivated Her

Daughter's rejection letter motivated her.
My daughter received a rejection letter that motivated her. (taramara78/ Shutterstock)

“And, during finals weeks, the Professors actually cook breakfast for us…at MIDNIGHT!” exclaimed the tour guide.

It was the summer of my daughter’s senior year of high school, and we were touring East Coast stretch universities. She’d just had an interview, and now we were on a tour of one of the Big Ivies (let’s call it XYZ University.) As we stood under a shade tree seeking relief from the sweltering August sun, we listened to the perky co-ed tell us all of the fine reasons for attending this illustrious, storied university. There were about 50 of us in the group, and we all looked rapt, and maybe a little star-struck.

The guide continued breathlessly, “…and last year, we actually had a professor who’d been involved with Hamilton (the musical) teach a drama course! It was amazing!” I saw the eyes of my daughter, a potential Theatre major, perceptibly widen.

Soon, the guide asked for questions. A parent – a numbers person, no doubt – asked the question on everyone’s minds (or the one after, “How in the heck does a family pay the tuition here?”) In reality, he asked, “What’s the current acceptance rate at XYZ University?”

The tour guide adopted a sad face, and responded, “6%.”

I (slowly) did the math in my own head. (I wished I’d had paper and pen.) If the tour had 25 potential applicants, then X would be accepted.” The answer is 1.5.  Let’s round a little; potentially ONE student would be admitted from this group. That’s why they call it a “stretch school,” kids.

After those numbers dinged, the tour guide said, “I know. You’re thinking that’s a really low number admitted from all of the applications.  I’m not going to lie to you. This is a great school, an amazing school, really, and honestly, I love it here.

You’d get a stellar education if you are accepted and attend. But, here’s the thing to remember as you fill out your applications and you visit other colleges: There are many, MANY awesome colleges. There are any number of places where you could achieve great things and, yes, believe it or not, be very happy.”

Even, two years later, I think that was the most important piece of advice I took away from our college tours. And, this month and next, I’m thinking about all of the current college applicants and their parents waiting for decisions from their dream schools.

Take it from this parent who has been through the battles and survived the war, as you wait impatiently and hopefully for those glorious “big envelopes,” versus the cold small and thin envelopes.

There is not one best and only college; in fact, there are MANY fine colleges. Colleges where you can find your place, meet your people, and create awesome memories, and maybe even learn a few things along the way.

One of the most gracious and beautiful rejection (thin-envelope) letter my daughter received contained these words which have stuck with her and with me.

“After careful review of your application, I am sorry to inform you that we cannot offer you admission. I know this is disappointing news and certainly not what you or we had hoped for.  As thorough and fair as we attempt to make our selection process, we may at times suffer from shortsightedness. Your fine achievement to date and in future college endeavors may well prove just how shortsighted we can be.”

This rejection letter was issued by one of her top 3 choice colleges, and while it was disappointing, it ultimately inspired my daughter to prove to them that they were, in fact, shortsighted. As her mom, I was impressed with their honesty and their graciousness. What a fine institution – dream school – it would have been for her.

My fingers and toes are crossed that you are accepted into your dream schools. But, if you’re not, I hope you’ll quickly come to think of your chosen college as your amended “dream school.”

And mostly, I hope you’ll make your own happiness – and fulfill all of your dreams – at whatever college is LUCKY enough to get YOU.

Best of Luck,
From a Mama who’s happy her daughter didn’t get into the Big Ivy and is now happily succeeding at her (amended) dream school


My Son Is Graduating From College And Will Move Forward His Own Way

Daughter In College: I May Just Need A Little More Time

About Deb Nies

Deb Nies is a contributing author to It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure. Her writing has appeared in Our Wisconsin, Modern Bliss, among others. Deb was a proud cast member of the Listen to Your Mother Show - Madison in both 2011 and 2017.

She and her wife, Linda live in the only Waunakee in the world, Wisconsin. They are new empty nesters, as beloved daughter (Hannah) is a first-year at Wellesley College. In real life, Deb is a Social Media & Marketing Consultant, a foodie, an adventurer, and an infrequent blogger. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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