As the title says, we will be talking about how to truly deal with a college rejection. From, drum roll please, the point of view of a college student. (That’s me). Rejections are never easy; whether it is school slamming you down with a polite “we don’t want you”, a crush quickly saying “ew” at the spoken thought of you two being good for each other, or a job not calling back on a position. It is never the easiest to undergo. Unless you are like Randy Pausch, who dropped a rejection letter at the desk of Andy and had phone calls made, you are like the rest of us outstanding students that have to bring their skills to another table. So, it still remains, how do you deal with all of this? Now, I can quickly wrap this up by saying that this sadness will fade. That life will resume to its normal rhythms and this rejection will become a memory, one that makes you a little sad(or hopefully, not sad at all). But how would that help you? So I won’t tell you that. And to save us the trouble, I won’t tell you to “get over it” in a nice way. You're probably wondering just what will I tell you then. I will tell you what I did. And please, hold your expectations at the door, I’m unexpected. Before we go into this, I should let the elephant out of the room.
I am the type of student that gets upset over a B. I still remember when my professor, in dual enrollment, didn’t round my 89.5 to an A. I cried like a wuss over it, too, and my mother was like “are you serious?” when she figured out the reason why. It was not what she expected to be. But back to the point---my first college rejection did a lot of damage.
A year and some months, I was a senior, probably like yourself now(or for those who have “been there, done that”, I was like you). In short, senior year had left as quickly as it had come. It was almost like life was rushing me through the thrill I had longed to experience as a junior
In truth, I had been waiting to graduate since I entered that high school. I was tired of it all.
Though it felt like the shortest time of high school days, it was the busiest. It was one thing after another. Personal essays. Applications. Recommendations. One document sent after the other. And God, SAT scores, the literal devil of them all. Then, if that wasn’t worse, you had the ache of suspense as you wait to see if you’re a disappointment or not. That’s the truth of it, really. It felt like I was trying to be a “pick me” person for each application sent. Fortunately, I didn’t have to pay a dime for sending out applications. It was one of the things I am grateful for--especially when being rejected to a few.
It’s one thing to lose confidence, but to be broke too. That’s just it.
My rejection email came when I was in school. Trust and believe, school is not the place you want to be when you’re trying to hold in the “Niagara fall” of tears. What even tipped me closer to losing it was that everyone else had been getting accepted to their colleges. Even the ones who didn’t even intend to go to college in the first place.
I felt like the meme with the dog sitting down as the room was on fire, saying “this is fine”.
Before the end could even end, I got rejected to another one and yet another. Three in a row. Great. If only my luck at losing could be applied to winning the lottery. You know when you’re holding it in and someone asks “are you okay?” Yeah, that was me when my favorite teacher, history at the time, asked how applications were going. I could feel the tears down my cheeks like beads of sweat on my brow and lip. “Hey, it’ll be okay. Three losses out of 16.” He said. “Yeah,” I said absently. “Only three, I still got more.”
But in my mind, this is how it was: 16-3= 13. So 13/16*100 = 81% And I hated getting B’s.
I cried a lot over it. I went to the mirror and put up peace signs to try to make myself feel better. Even did a facial mask, thinking it’ll magically take it away. But it stayed for some days like a knot in my stomach. So, my first advice to dealing with this is to grieve. Simply let it all out. It’s okay to feel broken by rejection--especially if it is from the school you’ve dreamed of going to. Give yourself the time to let it out. Even if it takes days. For me, it took a few weeks to get over them. During that moment of grief, I was doing peace signs, sleeping longer, and taking it one day at a time. After it, I felt better and reminded myself that colleges can’t just accept everyone that they think is good--even if I felt like I was born for it. I reminded myself, too, that I did what was my best and I can’t change that. Yeah, there might have been those smarter than me, more athletic than me, hell, even more school spirited than me, I did the best that I COULD.
As Muhammad Ali says, “I was the greatest, not the smartest.”
Once I felt back on my grind, I hit harder. I applied for some more colleges. I made plans for when all else fails. Plans for community college, to take a gap year if I needed to, and to be working within that time period. My second piece of advice is, when you bounce back, bounce back hard. Make yourself a plan for when A, B, and C don’t work. Don’t focus on the negative outlook on community colleges, taking a gap year, or deciding to work. They are all good routes. Make realistic goals for yourself as well within your bounce-back period.
Plan until you’ve run out of space to plan, then make space, and plan some more.
About a few weeks later, I got a full ride to one of my applied colleges. This gave me a surplus of hope, even some confidence back. Unfortunately, though, I was unable to attend college because of my parents. It was “too far” from home and we had no family members near to aid. But I didn’t decline that offer yet, in case I ended up with 14 rejections. I needed something to fall back on, you know? (Always have something to fall back on and make sure that college is what you would want to be in). One by one, the other application results came back. I had received a lot more acceptance. I also got two “try again next semester” type responses. But none of the schools that accepted me, at the time, was any that fit for me. They were either too expensive, too as I would say “sketchy looking”, or the ratio between student to the professor was ridiculously big for me. Time was running out and I needed to place myself in a college. For someone who was crying over not being accepted, I still was a picky one. But it is okay to be picky. You need the right college for you, not one of the “top five great colleges” in your state. At last minute, and I mean it when I say last minute, I had gone on a mini college tour with my father to where I currently am. The environment was so friendly. Everyone was saying hi, welcoming me in already, and trying to offer me scholarships. I went in there to just look around and I came out with not only being accepted to it, but I was an enrolled upcoming freshman. So, to wrap, it will work out. But not because it magically works out. It worked out because you put in work for it. You made adjustments to your perspective of the rejection. You kept pushing through to the end. You found what’s best for you. You planned. But above all, you believed that it would work out. It will be okay. Trust, J.