It can be something to learn from and a way to improve skills you'll need
as an adult. Just remember: it happens to a lot of people. And it doesn't
mean you won't still get into a great school.
Ruth Lohmeyer is a high school counselor in Nebraska who also spent 10
years working in admissions at a college level. She works with high school
students who have been rejected from colleges and universities. She will actually
call the admissions office of the school that didn't accept the student so
she can find out what it was about the student's application that didn't work.
And the student will be in her office when she makes the call.
"This not only helps the student improve in any areas so they can re-submit
documentation, but also helps me, as a school counselor, to act on their behalf
with updating recommendation letters, helping the student resubmit an essay,
etc.," she says.
"This also helps keep me stay current as I advise my younger high school
students in the college application process."
Lohmeyer says she encourages students to start visiting and researching
colleges and universities as early as Grade 9. She says starting early and
planning is extremely important.
"It's important to not only know yourself as a student, but to only apply
to the colleges/universities that match who you are and offer your interests,"
"Have essays proofed by your school counselor and an English teacher. Choose
who writes your letters of recommendations wisely.Choose a recommender who
knows your academic personality, knows the college/university you are wishing
to attend and can write a personalized yet honest letter on your behalf."
But getting rejected, even if you're prepared, is never easy.
"I was disappointed, and confused," says Megan Cole, who has applied and
been rejected from colleges in the past.
"The application process for master's programs in particular is time-consuming
and expensive. There is also very little guidance going into it, so you do
your best putting yourself out there. And then when the rejection letter comes
back, you are left with few answers as to why you weren't accepted."
Cole says she wishes she had used more resources for guidance and advice
about what the programs are looking for. For example, she learned that a lot
of master's programs are looking for volunteer and work experience that relates
to the program.
"Also, I would follow up with the people in the department about what they
are looking for, so that if you choose to reapply, you are better equipped
for the next time."
Rob Nicholls has also tried and failed to get into universities. He says
that getting a rejection letter is a pretty normal part of applying to schools.
"A rejected application to an educational institution is part of the process
in applying for higher education," he says. "One should be proud of their
efforts to submit an application, yet understand what areas fell short, whether
it be a low grade point average, an unimpressive letter of intent, or a CV
that needs improvement."
Nicholls suggests visiting the institutions and the programs that you're
interested in, when possible. He says this helps give you an idea and feeling
about the program you're investing your time in. It also lets the chair and
faculty members put a face to the name on your application.
"Giving yourself time to have your written materials reviewed and edited
is a must," he says. "Perhaps speaking with a successful applicant about the
process and how they approached their own letter of intent. The aforementioned
tactics earned me successful applications."
How many schools should you apply to? Anne Kremer is an associate director
of undergraduate admissions at a university in Chicago. She suggests applying
to some that are highly selective, some that are moderately selective, and
"The goal is that of the institutions you apply to, there are some schools
on that list that you are excited about and can see yourself attending. Just
because you didn't get into one doesn't mean you're not going to college.
It just may mean that you're not going to that college, at least at that point."
Nicholls suggests applying to no more than three schools. "[One] highly
competitive dream program and then two more local programs," he says. Applying
to more will not only hurt your finances (there are often application fees),
but it can also weaken your applications if you don't have as much time to
spend on each one.
Cole stresses that you need to do research on each one to make sure you're
applying to schools that have what you're looking for.
"Some programs specialize in different areas, and focus on specific specialties.
It's good to know what that is before applying and perhaps apply to a program
you really aren't interested in," she says.
Kremer says if you do get a rejection letter, try to put a positive spin
on it. And then look into other options -- like transfers.
"If a student wanted to go to a four-year university, and they had a rocky
junior/senior year, enroll at a community college. After a successful year
or two you can reapply to the four year institution as a transfer student,"
"You can meet with an admission advisor ahead of time and tell them "I
want to transfer; this is my goal. I recognize why I didn't get admitted,
but what do I need to do to transfer? I want to know what the next steps are.'
It's not always closing the door forever; you need to shift that mindset and
start considering other options."
Also, Kremer says that the school might have an appeals process. This
isn't always an appropriate plan of action. But sometimes, it's worth a shot.
"If a student has a new test score that comes in, new grades or some big
game-changing piece of information that you can provide to the institution,
they can certainly ask if they have an appeal process," she says.