For high school seniors, there is only one thing more exciting than sleeping in during winter break and opening new electronics on Christmas morning: finally receiving your college acceptance letters.
But it is also an anxious time as many students realize that they’re hopes might be returned with a dreaded “thin envelope.” This terrifying envelope contains a simple rejection letter cloaked in niceties like “we regret to inform you,” “it was a competitive year with the most applicants to date,” “thank you for applying” and “best of luck on your future endeavors.”
Why Rejection Is Not the End
Fortunately, a rejection letter, even if it comes from the admissions office of your dream school, is not the end of the story. Famous successes like news anchor Tom Brokaw and Warren Buffett have publically shared about how being rejected by their first pick taught important lessons and made a major impact on their career successes.
When it comes to the selection process, college admin offices are not rejecting you, they are simply doing math. “The number of students who applied to seven or more schools,” says the Daily News, “has risen steadily during the last 20 years, reaching 25 percent in 2010.” With the rise of international applicants and the efficiency of the common application, more and more students are applying to a greater number of schools.
This makes it difficult for admissions to gauge how many spots will actually be filled after they admit early action applicants in December. So it is not uncommon for students to be deferred to the next application deadline. When a school does place you on a waiting list, contact them to make sure they know that their university ranks first on your list. This can help admissions offices to see who really wants to commit and who filled out the common application for as many schools as possible.
What If Your Dream School Doesn’t Accept You?
With SATs, college applications and scholarship searching, your senior year of high school might be one of pressure and tension. The stress can feel especially high for students who have been dreaming about Harvard since 5th grade or whose parents and grandparents all attended Stanford.
So it is comforting to recognize that even if it wasn’t one of your top picks, wherever you end up attending will probably become your favorite college by the first Thanksgiving break. And if it doesn’t, you can always transfer to a new institution in the spring.
For students who didn’t make it in to their number choice, it is alright to take a day or two to feel disappointed. But don’t stay down for long because a number of new ideas you might have never considered remain as great alternatives.
Some students may be interested in online schools like South University programs that provide additional flexibility and can allow for travel or new work opportunities in the middle of a semester. Other prospective college students might feel like expanding their horizons by studying abroad. Competitive colleges in Scotland, England or any other location across the globe can provide the perfect backdrop to a foreign education experience.
If you do find yourself on a waitlist or receiving a rejection, don’t freak out just yet because a new opportunity might be right around the corner.
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